Isomorphic mimicry can camouflage be sabotaged

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Lant Pritchett gave this presentation in Chile at Instituto de Políticas Públicas UDP. Link to original source:

Lant Pritchett gave this presentation in Chile at Instituto de Políticas Públicas UDP. Link to original source:

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  • 1. Lant Pritchett Universidad Diego PortalesInstituto de Políticas Públicas October 11, 2011
  • 2. “Development” is a four-fold transformation of‘rules-systems’ (with complex interacting pieces) Figure 1: Development as a four-fold modernization process • ECONOMY • POLITY • Enhanced • Accurate productivity preference aggregation Transforming Rules Systems • SOCIETY • ADMINISTRATION • Equal social • Rational, rights, professional opportunities organizations
  • 3. Chile has been one of fewcomplete development successesOnly 10 countries in the Country Region post WWII period that Japan East Asia have managed to have: South Korea East Asia Spain EuropeExtended episode of rapid Portugal Europe economic growth (>4 Ireland Europe ppa in GDP per capita) Israel ? Austria EuropeElectoral Democracy (high France Europe POLITY rating) Finland EuropeCapable Bureaucracy (high Chile South America BQ, low corruption) Source: Pritchett and Werker 2011
  • 4. A much more common experienceis failure in at least one dimensionof the “development” process Economic stagnation Lack effective polity so that citizens do not control the state (even with elections) Failure of a transformation to national identity and social cohesion/basic equal rights Failure of the state to acquire the institutional and organizational capability to implement policy
  • 5. At the launch of an institute of public policy, animportant question is what is “public policy?” Official or de jure public policy is a mapping from states of the world to actions by an authorized agent of the state with intended outcomesRealized States of the World Actions by agents (Ω) of the state (A) Intended Outcomes EE (Everything else)
  • 6. Outline of my talk:Failures in Policy Implementation Gap between “policy” and “policy”: the de jure-de facto gap “Capability traps” as slow progress in the acquisition of the capability for effective policy implementation Escaping “baby ontology” The camouflage of “isomorphic mimicry” Sabotaging the natural camouflage with:  Performance measurement  Authorization of positive deviation Disruptive innovation as the path to OECD
  • 7. “Looking like a state” in India: Nobody is therebut no one is absent either  Super whiz-bang program Both treatment and control to improve nurses with present on ‘monitored’ better technology, better days about a third the time incentives, civil society engagement, failed completely as physical attendance was 30 percent.  The state cannot control the mapping “If its Monday be at work” Source: Banerjee, Duflo, Glennerster, 2008 ( figure 2)
  • 8. The initiative changed the juridical or official reality from “absence” to “exemption” without transforming actual policy100% implementation—presence was unchanged Machine problems80% Exempted days60%40% Absent Half day20% Present 0% Feb- Mar- Apr- May- Jun- Jul- Aug- Sep- Oct- Nov- Dec- Jan- Feb- Mar- Apr- May- 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 06 07 07 07 07 07 M onth Source: Duflo presentation
  • 9. De facto or “realized” policy is driven by agent choice, which is anendogenous outcome of a system and de jure “policy” is only oneelement—and “realized” policy matters to outcomes De jure Policy Realized Actions by agents (de facto) of the stateRealized States (Publicly Policy (A) of the World authorized) Agents Intended Outcomes EE (Everything else)
  • 10. Comparing what “legal compliance” would take versus what firms say they actually do Comparing “legal time for compliance” and actual firm responses—no correlation, consistently less Source: Hallward-Driemeier and Pritchett 2010
  • 11. Huge gaps in what firms report: for instance, of191 firms in Chile where the DB reports 155 daysto get construction permit… 10th: 7 days 25th: 20 days 90th: 360 days 75th: 120 days
  • 12. What is “administrative capabilityof the state”? Organizations of the state able to induce behavior of implementing agents consistent with carrying out the stated objectives of the organization  Perhaps a narrow gap between de jure and de facto policy, or  Location of country in the gap in outcomes between optimal actions of agents of the state versus outcomes with purely selfish objective function maximizing actions by agents of the state (allowing for “street level bureaucrats” actually doing better than de jure) Somehow aggregated across the organizations of the state (e.g. tax, police, education, regulation, health, infrastructure)
  • 13. “Capability Traps” are when there is stagnation in thepace of acquisition of state capability for policyimplementation: How long till Haiti reaches Singapore? At that pace Haiti reaches Singapore in 2,000 years Been independent for 200 years and is only this far about Somalia (complete anarchy)
  • 14. Using available time series from ICRG to extrapolatescenarios of progress—current progress is slow Country Bureaucratic Quality Corruption Years to Singapore Current Years to Singapore (4) at: Current (4.5) Level Own past Average Pace of Level Own past Pace of (scale 0 to pace, country fastest 20 (scale 0 to pace, fastest 20 4) 1985-2009 pace improvers 6) 1985-2009 improvers 0.0080 0.075 0.061 Haiti 0 Infinity 503 53 1 84 57 Nigeria 1 Infinity 377 40 1.5 Infinity 49 Sudan 1 72 377 40 1 Infinity 57 Iraq 1.5 120 314 33 1.3 Infinity 52Nicaragua 1 Infinity 377 40 2.5 Infinity 33
  • 15. How (not “why”) are capabilitytraps sustained? What are the techniques of successful failure? How do organizations manage to sustain a lack of progress while maintaining legitimacy, surviving as an organization, and even attracting more and more resources? How is the gap between rhetoric and performance sustained?
  • 16. The camouflage of isomorphicmimicry (Remember: Red and black, friend of Jack, Red and Yellow, Kill a Fellow
  • 17. An expertise in public policy avoidsexplanations that rely on babyontology Babies understand the world in terms of Agents: things with “will” that act teleologically Stuff: things that are acted upon by agents Which is why they laugh at balloons, as they are baby ontologically weird Most of us, nearly all of the time, operate in the world successfully with “baby ontology”—outcomes are explained because some agents wanted ir or the properties of the natural world But systems are an ontological third category that explain outcomes without teleology.
  • 18. Evolutionary ecosystem: Agents, organizations, systemsSystem Space for Closed OpenCharacteristics novelty(Context, Environmentfor Organizations) Agenda (E)Valuation of Functionality Conformity noveltyOrganizations Isomorphic Organization Goal: Demonstrated(firms, ministries, Mimicry Legitimation SuccessNGOs) choose (mimetic or normative) (growth, resources)strategies Organizational Leadership Value CreationAgents Perpetuation(leaders, managers,Front-line workers Front-line worker Act with Concerned Compliance Choices Flexibility
  • 19. Why economists love markets like we do when we do: Good markets are a system that leads to ecological learningSystem Space for Firms Closed OpenCharacteristics novelty can enter(Context, Environment Consumersfor Organizations) Agenda (E)Valuation of Functionality vote with Conformity novelty their feet/dollarsOrganizations Isomorphic Organization Goal: Demonstrated Motivates innovation and(firms, ministries, Mimicry Legitimation Success “creative destruction”NGOs) choose (mimetic or normative) (growth, resources)strategies Organizational Leadership Value CreationAgents Perpetuation(leaders, managers,Front-line workers Front-line worker Act with Concerned Compliance only Choices Flexibility
  • 20. The dangers of public systems: it can align on isomorphism as an optimal strategy Monopoly providers (as Space for Open users of public Closed novelty resources) risk averse “more of the same Agenda (E)Valuation of Functionality(alignment of political Conformity novelty interests) but better”weal leadership, front-line Isomorphic Organization Goal: Demonstrated organizational strategy, Motivates isomorphic Mimicry Legitimation Success (growth, resources) mimicry as an (mimetic or normative) malaise Organizational Leadership Value Creation Perpetuation Front-line worker Act with Concerned Compliance Choices Flexibility
  • 21. Chile’s problem? Chile has successfully avoided the problems of Afghanistan, Somalia (complete state failure) or even of India, or other Latin American states of a “flailing” state with weak capability to implement policy and hence slippage (e.g. corruption, ineffectiveness) But… in making the final push to its legitimate aspirations as an OECD country, what are the dangers of isomorphic mimicry?
  • 22. To catch the OECD Chile has to do it betterthan the OECD…it cannot win a race of“more of the same” This way be (fiscal) Dragons…imitating other OECD systems leads to high cost isomorphic mimicry…. “We’ll have OECD performance when we have OECD inputs”
  • 23. Education for instance: “normative isomorphic mimicry” is not a strategy for OECD performanceEmpirical illustrations from Mexico or Brazil that expanding spending, at existingassociations of spending with learning outcomes leads to very little gain—even atFIVE TIMES higher absolute spending only 20 points of the gap is closed (or atDenmark’s ratio of spending to GDP only about 20 points gain) Source: Pritchett (forthcoming), chapter 4
  • 24. Can Isomorphic mimicrycamouflage be sabotaged? How can the space for innovation be created for scalable ideas? How can performance measures get real traction over behavior of organizations? De-legitimization of “looking like a state” or merely looking like success Authorization of directed positive deviation: swap freedom to innovate for higher performance accountability
  • 25. Mixture of “orthodoxy”—foundations in“compliance”—but need “positive deviations”to be authorized and evaluatedMark Morris dancing the female lead in Dido andAenas—classic tradition—Greek myth, Baroqueopera but with innovation
  • 26. Policy Makers Design policy based on global “best practice” Organizations & Agencies Implement according to local constraints Policies Process include Rent Seekers Bureaucrats Innovators controls process also preventbarriers to potentially prevent Space for usefulmalfeasance Achievable process Practice deviations Lower Higher Outcome Outcome Outcome
  • 27. Policy Makers Design water/sanitation program Typical Practice on local “Best Fit ” Internal authorization of positive deviation Rent Seekers Bureaucrats Innovators Policy Deviation Space for Achievable Practice Feedback on Outcomes Lower Standard Betteroutcomes outcomes outcomes
  • 28. “Modern” State, Disruptive innovation Weberian Ideal, (Christensen 2007)—High Appropriate for surpass leaders from “high-end” users below—not head to head 21st Century State, Context specific, Appropriate for most usersCapability Pursuit of “Best Fit” “Disruptive Weak processes technology, or technology Appropriate for “low-end” usersLow Low Affordability High
  • 29. Summary Successful outcomes from policy depend on policy implementation not just policy Policy implementation is determined by the structures of systems—not the will of agents Isomorphic mimicry—the imitation of the trappings of functional systems without their drive for performance is a constant risk in public systems Sabotage of camouflage is de-legitimation of just “looking like a state” and creating space and evaluation of scalable systemic innovations—performance measurement and positive deviation Disruptive innovation—jumping past best practice rather than imitating one’s way to success
  • 30. My work drawn on Andrews, Pritchett, Woolcock, 2010, “Capability Traps? The Mechanisms of Persistent Implementation Failure” / Spartans, Paper Tigers and Keystone Cops: The Financial Crisis of 2008 and Organizational Capability for Policy Implementation Hallward-Driemeier and Pritchett, 2011, “Doing Business and How Business is Done: Measuring the investment climate when firms have climate control” The Rebirth of Modern Education (chapters available at