Frauke de Weijer
Frauke de Weijer is currently working as a policy officer on conflict, security and resilience at the European Centre for Development Policy Management, and is also an associate fellow at the Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, USA. De Weijer is a development practitioner and thinker who has been active in Afghanistan intermittently from 2002 to 2011. She worked as an advisor for the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Ministry of Frontiers and Tribal Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, in the fields of policy development, institutional strengthening and capacity building. In 2010-11 she became an associate fellow at the Center for International Development (CID) at the Harvard Kennedy School, conducting research on the applicability of the concepts of complexity science to the practice of international development and institutional change, with an emphasis on fragile states. Her recent publications include inter alia ECDPM Discussion Paper on Resilience and CID-paper on Building a Capable State in Afghanistan.
In response to Seth Kaplan: Elites that are in the position to use the tools presented effectively, will advance their own agenda.
Fragile states are characterized by a variety of institutional arrangements that exist alongside each other. This institutional multiplicity is a complex phenomenon, but not necessarily ‘good’ or ‘bad’. For donors and development organizations, it creates particular challenges when they are trying to match their approach to the local complexities of fragile states. Without sufficient understanding, their engagement can have unexpected outcomes.
Development organizations have yet to come to terms with the inherent complexity of institutional change. Institutional change takes time, and the kind of institution best suited to a given situation depends on the context. In other words, a successful institution in the West is not necessarily going to work in Afghanistan or Sudan. Institutions understandably tend to mimic other successful organizational structures, but this often only creates the illusion of capability and legitimacy. Development organizations therefore need to build a deep understanding of the rules systems at work in the society in question and acknowledge the unpredictability of change in the complex social systems of fragile states. Only then can they adapt their practices accordingly and help build institutions that work.