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Philip Keefer

Though pathbreaking scholarship has placed collective action problems at the core of economic development, our knowledge is still incomplete about the sources of stable collective action. This chapter focuses on continuing questions surrounding the role of collective action in the shaping of government policy. To what extent do informal norms of cooperation allow citizens to act collectively to influence government? Organizations, particularly political parties, can solve citizen collective action problems. When do policy-based – programmatic – parties emerge that allow for collective action around policy issues? State capacity is most accurately seen as a quality of public sector organization: can public sector organizations mobilize public sector workers in the collective task of serving the public interest? However, governments take starkly different attitudes towards improving state capacity. What explains this variation? This chapter suggests that these questions should be at the core of future research on institutions and development.

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Philip Keefer and Mary M. Shirley