Table of Contents

Handbook on Theories of Governance

Handbook on Theories of Governance

Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In the past two decades, governance theories have arisen semi-independently across multiple disciplines. In law and regulation, planning, democratic theory, economics, public management, and international relations, among other disciplines, scholars have sought to describe new strategies of governing. As a result, the notion of governance is now one of the most frequently used social science concepts in the world. No single theory encompasses this diverse body of work, but rather multiple theories with different aims and perspectives. The Handbook on Theories of Governance collects these theories of governance together as an analytical resource for governing in an increasingly complex, fragmented and dynamic society.

Chapter 8: Development theory

Jennifer N. Brass

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


Over the past 75 years, the world has witnessed a series of successive international development theories that have structured donor and government policy prescriptions. As each theory has failed to swiftly eradicate global poverty, criticisms have mounted, and the paradigm has shifted. Assessing the role for the state and for the market in fostering positive socioeconomic change has been central to the evolution of theories of development. This chapter first traces the history of these paradigmatic changes, beginning from a period of state-centered, to market-centered, and then to governance-focused development theory. Second, the chapter highlights the relatively recent focus on “good governance” institutions in creating enabling conditions for markets, as well as the importance given to “collaborative governance” in the 2000s. In so doing, the chapter notes the ways in which the field of international development uses the term “governance” in common and particular ways.

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