Forward College

Development management

This course uses an institutional approach to examine the development process and to analyse the roots of developmental and anti-developmental experiences in countries, regions and organisations.

Theoretical background

  • Institutional theories: Institutions, organisations and development management; the importance of managing the transformation from less to more effective institutions.


  • Public order and theories of the State: The origins and role of the state; Leviathan vs. social contract approaches; political accountability, order, and public policy-making in conditions characteristic of less-developed countries.
  • Democracy and decentralisation: Fiscal architecture, hierarchical relations within government, and government responsiveness; residual power; interest groups vs. civic groups, organisation and voice, and political representation.
  • International aid and international governance: Aid, conditionality and national sovereignty; the concept and limitations of ‘global governance’; its effects on trade and aid flows; their ultimate effects on countries’ development prospects.

Private provision: The market and beyond

  • Hierarchy, co-operation & incentives in private firms: Pure market exchange; the theoretical origins of firms; the role of hierarchy in efficiency and coordination.
  • Real firms, small firms: microentrepreneurs and the informal sector: Theory of the firm applied to real, third-world market conditions; the origins of the informal sector; prospects for its development.
  • Common resources and private solutions for collective action: The economic characteristics of common property resources; the pervasiveness of Tragedies of the Commons and environmental degradation in LDCs; implications for efficiency; possibilities for private solutions and collective action; empirical examples from LDCs

Empirical studies of transformation and decomposition

  • Institutions vs. geography vs. values: Why are some countries rich and others poor? Competing theories of the determinants of development; empirical evidence for each.
  • Analytical narratives on development failure: Why do some countries ‘de-develop’? The cases of Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Pakistan; cross-country evidence of development failure.
  • Analytical narratives on development success: Why do some countries succeed? Can their success be replicated? The cases of China and Botswana; cross-country evidence of development success.
  • Towards a theory of development management: A synthesis of the theory of parts 1 and 2 with the empirics of part 3; the determinants of development success; successful management of the transition to a rapid development process.


If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Explain the role of incentives in political behaviour and economic performance
  • Map the links from different organisations and institutions to the incentives they put in place
  • Compare and contrast why certain organisations are better suited to certain types of services and/or environments than others
  • Map the links from incentive systems to micro and macro-level economic performance
  • Discuss what stable institutional constellations comprise, how they come about, and under which conditions they perish.
  • North, D. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Brett, E.A. Reconstructing Development Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Putnam, R.D. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Rodrik, D. (ed.) In Search of Prosperity: Analytical Narratives on Economic Growth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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