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The politics of state effectiveness in Burundi and Rwanda: ruling elite legitimacy and the imperative of state performance

Chemouni, Benjamin (2016) The politics of state effectiveness in Burundi and Rwanda: ruling elite legitimacy and the imperative of state performance. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores why state effectiveness differs in countries that otherwise share many common characteristics, a question that has been central in recent academic and policy debates, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The thesis presents a comparative study of two such states, Burundi and Rwanda. Although they share many characteristics, their performance has followed diverging paths since the end of the civil war in Burundi (1993-2003) and of the war and the genocide in Rwanda (1990-1994). Through a comparative case study analysis, the research examines why the state is more effective in implementing government policies in the latter than in the former. Drawing on a year and a half of fieldwork, the thesis explores the effectiveness of the state from two analytical vantage points. First, a functional perspective examines the articulation and implementation of specific policies, taking as sub-case studies the promotion of fertiliser use in agriculture and the promotion of maternal health. Second, state effectiveness is explored through an organisational perspective, examining the incentive, monitoring and disciplining mechanisms of officials in the local-level and national-level bureaucracies. Both countries had formal state institutions ostensibly designed to promote development. However the informal norms and organisational behaviour promoted by ruling political parties undermined developmental efforts in Burundi while supporting them in Rwanda. The thesis argues that the difference in state effectiveness between the two countries lies ultimately in elites’ differing strategies of legitimation, making a well-functioning state less politically imperative in Burundi than in Rwanda. To demonstrate this, the thesis improves on existing typologies of forms of legitimacy and probes the relationship between the elite’s legitimation strategies and state effectiveness. Empirically, the research contributes to redressing the relative paucity of the literature on the political economy of the state in Burundi. It engages with the polarised scholarship on Rwanda by revisiting the main debates on the nature of its state. It invites nuancing current analyses on how power is deployed from the centre to the periphery in that country.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Benjamin Chemouni
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Putzel, James

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