'Pockets of effectiveness' have helped countries achieve growth, avoid the resource curse and deliver services. We welcome papers that locate PoEs in their political context, including with reference to wider strategies of state-building and regime survival, and also to transnational influences.
High levels of state capacity have played a critical role in enabling developing countries to achieve progress, as recognized in the emphasis in SDG16 on building institutions that are 'effective' as well as 'inclusive'. However, history suggests that 'developmental states' were not characterized by Weberian civil services and high levels of state capacity across the board, but rather that progress is often driven by small bureaucratic enclaves performing specific functions. Often referred to as 'pockets of bureaucratic effectiveness', PoEs, defined as public organizations that are reasonably effective in carrying out their functions in otherwise dysfunctional governance contexts. PoEs have played essential roles in establishing the conditions for economic growth, avoiding problems associated with the resource curse, delivering services and performing a range of regulatory functions. However, current research into PoEs tends to lack a comparative focus and underplay the centrality of politics in shaping how they emerge and can be sustained, in part by referring to such organisations as 'islands' that are somehow divorced from their wider context. We particularly welcome papers that seek to locate PoEs in their political and political economy context, including with reference to wider strategies of state-building and regime survival, and also to transnational influences.