Researching the politics of development



Developmental states: a review of the literature

Working paper 3

Download pdf

Laura Routley


This paper conducts a review of the literature concerning developmental states, in order to identify gaps and suggest research questions which could be fruitful for the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Consortium to explore, within the remit of their proposed research programme. This literature review attends to three key questions about developmental states and the answers proposed to them within the literature, namely; what worked? Why did it work? And would it work elsewhere? It also examines an emerging literature suggesting other models of a developmental state more suited to contemporary circumstances, which focus more explicitly on development as a social phenomenon rather than as a purely economic one. These are of particular interest given ESIDs focus on inclusive development.
The conclusions of the paper examine some of the gaps in the literature and suggest an agenda for future research which includes addressing questions around:

  • How does the consensus of conducting developmental roles come about – and how is it sustained?
  • Patrimonialism, personal rule, development and stability
  • Role of education, especially higher/further education
  • Importance of rural/agriculture policies