This talk draws on case study evidence from Princeton University’s Innovations for Successful Societies to reflect on some current theories about building accountable government. The focus is on settings where geography, insecurity, and limited resources render conventional management strategies unworkable.
Jennifer Widner is professor of politics and international affairs and director of the Mamdouha S.Bobst Center for Peace & Justice at Princeton University. She runs a research program on institution building and institutional reform called Innovations for Successful Societies, a joint initiative of the Bobst Center and the Woodrow Wilson School. Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2004-5, she taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan. Her current research focuses on the political economy of institutional reform, government accountability, and service delivery. She also remains interested in constitution writing, constitutional design, and fair dealing—topics of earlier research. She is author of Building the Rule of Law (W. W. Norton), a study of courts and law in Africa, and she has published articles on a variety of topics in Democratization, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Development Studies, The William & Mary Law Review, Daedalus, the American Journal of International Law, and other publications. She is completing work on a book about making government work in challenging settings, drawing on experiences in Africa, Asia, and parts of Latin America.