Waylaid Dialectic

August 28, 2012

2.975 Cheers for Owen

Filed under: Aid,Governance — terence @ 3:04 pm

Obviously, if you are a small development blog the way to grow (to develop!) is to follow the tried and true blogging path of beating your chest and nosily throwing stones at larger bloggers. That is precisely what I am not going to do with respect to this blog post of Owen Barder’s. Damn it is good.

If I was going to quibble I’d say that a focus on governance and institutions was never really in the original Washington Consensus (it arrived in the first iteration of the post-Washington-consenus-where-did-we-go-wrong-and-who-else-can-we-blame attempts at consensus). And I’d say that Owen ought to at least allow possibility that industrial policy might be an important aspect of economic development. And I’d say that I’m not convinced we really need complexity theory to dig fruitfully into issues of governance. I’d say that, first and foremost, we simply need political scientists and sociologists to have a look with the old fashioned tools of their trades. That hasn’t happened enough, and I suspect could pay decent dividends on its own.

Anyhow, I’m not going to quibble though – rather I’m going to bow, tip my hat and generally do all those other things English culture would have me do as a way of saying I’m impressed.


  1. Terence – I’ll take 99%. Thanks.

    I agree that it is important to consider the possible role of industrial policy (to which I am not hostile in theory, but as a former civil servant I have a keen sense of the possibilities of government failure). I also agree that we don’t need complexity theory to think about some of these issues; but it has helped me by providing a framwework; and we should not underestimate the value of the lessons from physics and biology, and not just political scientists and sociologists.


    Comment by Owen Barder — August 28, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  2. Thanks Owen – I guess we’re pretty much exactly on the same page then (there goes my throwing stones strategy…) I’ve already downloaded the latest DD and am looking forwards to learning more on the complexity side of things (my wife, by the way is already a fan of complexity theory, meaning that she’s eagerly anticipating the chance to tell me she told me so in the not to distant future.)

    Comment by terence — August 28, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

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