Constituting Development in Somaliland

Oct 07, 2009Oct 08, 2009

The Social Change Project at the Mercatus Center presented a lecture by Sujai Shivakumar, Senior Program Officer at the National Academies. Dr. Shivakumar discussed the importance of crafting institutions for economic development and shared his experiences from advising the Somaliland government and civil society on developing a constitution.

Institutions matter for development because they represent a shared understanding within a community of the rules we need to cooperate successfully with each other.  Many assume that the "state" provides this institutional framework for development.  Yet, the state-often conceived in the development literature as the preeminent locus for societal problem solving-is prone to (and often does) fail in this institutional role. Especially in cases of catastrophic state failure, reviving a capacity for self-governance at the grassroots that is also supported (or at least tolerated) within formal governance structures is essential for sustained peace and development. How do we begin and sustain this process?

This presentation drew on Dr. Shivakumar's research at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University as well as fieldwork in fostering a constitutional framework in Somaliland.

Sujai Shivakumar joined the National Academies in 2001 and has helped to prepare, and disseminate the work of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) on innovation and entrepreneurship. Previous to his work at the National Academies, Dr. Shivakumar served as a consultant on institutional development to the United Nations Development Programme, the Swedish International Development Agency, and Action Aid, a British non-governmental organization. Dr. Shivakumar received his doctorate in economics from George Mason University, where his research examined how the formal and informal rules that govern how we choose among public policies themselves emerge and adapt within constraints. Dr. Shivakumar's post-doctoral research with Elinor Ostrom at Indiana University's Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis applied this institutional approach to understanding the political economy of development and development cooperation.
His publications include The Constitution of Development: Crafting Capabilities for Self-Governance (Macmillan, 2005) and The Samaritans' Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid (Oxford University Press, 2005), coauthored with Elinor Ostrom, Clark Gibson, and Krister Andersson.