Changing Notions of Development: Bringing the State Back in

  • Peter Calvert
Part of the Palgrave Advances book series (PAD)


The role of the state in development was under attack for two decades: the 1980s and the 1990s. The prevailing economic orthodoxy, the ‘Washington consensus’, was that the state had only a minimal role to play, in ensuring a ‘level playing field’ for private interests. Anything more than that, it was argued, would distort the free working of the market and so hinder rather than help economic development. Adopted in 1991, the ‘Consensus’ helped guide the developmental policies of the international lending agencies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) for most of the time since then. However towards the end of the 1990s, discussion again focused upon the central role of the state in stimulating as well as presiding over economic development in the Newly Industrializing Countries (NICs). At the same time it was realised that the failure of economic development, particularly but not exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa, was not, as previously thought, caused by the strength of the state but rather by its weakness. The ‘hollowing out’ of the state left it fatally weakened, to the point at which it could no longer even successfully achieve its primary economic functions of maintaining a stable currency and guaranteeing the security of bargains in the market.


Gross Domestic Product International Monetary Fund Good Governance Developmental State Democratic Government 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Peter Calvert

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