The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
FREE Delivery in the UK.
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
The Limits of Institution... has been added to your Basket
Trade in your item
Get a £4.67
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development: Changing Rules for Realistic Solutions: 1 Paperback – 2 Jan 2014

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£18.60 £21.37

Frequently Bought Together

The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development: Changing Rules for Realistic Solutions: 1 + Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty
Price For Both: £30.68

Buy the selected items together

Trade In this Item for up to £4.67
Trade in The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development: Changing Rules for Realistic Solutions: 1 for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £4.67, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (2 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107684889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107684881
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 218,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


'Institutional reform can only work if it is tailored to the local context. That is why so-called best-practice reforms typically fail: they create the illusion of progress, but not the reality. This important book goes beyond this lament to formulate a positive agenda of reform, built on incrementalism, problem-driven focus, and collaboration among stakeholders. Matt Andrews has seen the future, and it is in this book.' Dani Rodrik, Harvard University, and author of One Economics, Many Recipes

'The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development points to the singular inability of international donors to promote their vision of good government, and explains how this is rooted in their failure to understand local context. More importantly, it suggests a way forward, not through preconceived models but through experimentation and adaptation.' Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University, and author of The End of History and the Last Man and Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap between Latin America and the United States

In this post-financial crisis era, many of us increasingly realize that we actually know little about how to govern human society for a good life. The author's insightful analysis makes a significant contribution to the literature. It has major implications for the study of public sector reforms in developing countries.' Jun Ma, Sun Yat-sen University, China

'Andrews has a simple but bold idea: admit that no one really knows what to do about governance failings in poor countries. Deep six the World Bank-style public-sector reform blueprints that haven't worked. Define the problem instead of specifying the solution, adopt 'muddle through' instead of 'best practice', and stop counting on local champions. New World Bank president Jim Yong Kim should ask for a briefing on this book.' Nancy Birdsall, President, Center for Global Development, Washington, DC

'For some time, developing countries have been told to improve their institutions by copying the institutions of the rich countries as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Matt Andrews tells us why this approach has not worked: this is a landmark analysis that will change the way we both understand and design institutional reform.' Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, and author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

'Using a wealth of data and informative cases, this book convincingly shows that the export of institutional reforms to developing countries has often resulted in superficial changes that have had little or no impact. Mimicking institutional devices cannot replace profound changes in the basic operational norms of how the government in developing countries tries to solve real problems.' Bo Rothstein, August Röhss Chair in Political Science and Head of the Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg

Book Description

Developing countries commonly adopt reforms to improve their governments yet they usually fail to produce more functional and effective governments. This book explains such failure and proposes an approach to facilitate better reform results in developing country governments.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JSaunders on 16 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
The author draws on an enormous array of data to show that the current external influences on institutional reform (identifying and prescribing best practice with little regard for context) encourage reformers to adopt the form but not the content of improved institutions (leading to the bizarre situation where some of the most corrupt countries in the world have the 'best' anti-corruption legislation).

The author then draws on findings from more successful institutional reforms to explore the elements of success. Throughout the book, there are excellent diagrams which elucidate the models he cites.

The approach he outlines (Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation or PDIA) emphasises the focus on context, distributed agency and problem focus. This is in stark contrast to the current approach's issue of 'best practice' solutions (regardless of context or particular problems), driven by leaders or 'champions' from above.

The institutional structure of the development game itself makes it hard for the adoption of such an approach. Detailed plans need to be approved in advance for project approval, with little scope for the iterative, participative activities necessary to faciliate real, widespread learning and change.

Though not discussed in the book itself, the recent turn in development thinking towards politics and institutions as the key drivers of development and prosperity (see Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, for example) emphasises the key role institutional reform must play if the lot of the worst off is to improve sustainably.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Spot on 10 Mar. 2013
By Vera W. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A must read for experts and practitioners alike who are ready to rethink traditional approaches to development and institutional reform. Andrews gives a step by step account of why solutions driven, best practice approaches can not work and promotes a more problem driven concept that relies on learning by doing, experimentation and broad based support from multiple levels of local stakeholders. He skillfully pulls together empirical analysis, in depth case studies and institutional analysis to explain why the majority of institutional reforms are limited to setting signals rather than bringing about a lasting change in behavior. But his book does far more than putting a finger on the failures of the past. It lays out a clear and simple framework based on concrete country cases and illustrative examples creating a convincing alternative to the rules based and top down thinking commonly found in donor supported initiatives. A thought provoking book and a pleasure to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Reasons for development successes and failures 13 Mar. 2013
By Coleman - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a must-read for the politician, government official, student, and anyone who has pondered the reasons for development successes and failures. Informed by an intimate knowledge of development challenges that many governments face, the author skilfully unravels why the expected success of many reforms have not materialised. This book is not just about compiling a list of problems, it also unpacks an innovative tool that governments and other reform stakeholders can use when designing and implementing reforms.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This a very good book 3 Jan. 2014
By A. S. Muller - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book writes up things that I have seen for years in the are of rule of law development. It gives things a name and places them in a conceptual framework. The fact that so much is based on empirical analysis adds to the strength of the argument made. A must read for those working on institutional reform.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for Country Development 21 Jun. 2013
By Doug Hadden - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should not be missed by anyone involved in aid, country development, policy or the public sector in developing countries. Matt Andrews identifies the gap between design and outcomes. Unlike other observers, Andrews diagnoses the underlying causes and provides a prescription for success called Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA).

Andrews delves into the soft underbelly of PFM reform. He describes how reform comes with "considerable expense, and with great anticipation" yet fails to achieve desired results despite decades of practical experience. Improved management of public financials is accepted as an important element in improved governance. Andrews finds a gap between legal reform and informal practices. [More on this at:] He shows the dangers of coming to development with the solution in mind and the insidious effects of so-called "best practices". [More on this at:].

The book could have been improved by taking showing where conventional thinking cannot explain development project failures [More on this at:], but this is a minor criticism given the practical advice in the book.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Long and boring 30 Jun. 2013
By Stefan - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Right from the start the book made me fall asleep.
It is a great example of how to make a 10 page article into a long book.
For the insight that it provides it is much too expensive.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know