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Institutional monocroping and monotasking in Africa

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In this paper I shall argue that while the upsurge of interest in institutions is welcome and long over due, the new focus is marred by the tethering of institutions to a “one-size-fitall” policy perspective which leads to what Peter Evans refers to as “institutional monocropping” which involves an “imposition of blueprints based on idealised versions of Anglo-American institutions whose applicability is presumed to transcend national cultures and circumstances” (Evans 2004). It also suffers from the insistence on institutional “monotasking” whereby institutions are reduced to servicing a standard set of often imposed policies or tasks and from the endless institutional experimentation that renders institutions highly unstable and unpredictable. Its attachment to “rational choice institutionalism” has tended to focus on the restraining role of institutions and ignored the developmental and transformative role that historical and sociological forms of institutionalism have highlighted1. And finally, by a proliferation of tasks to be performed by highly restrained institutions, it undermines the coherency of national bureaucracies.

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