Challenging the State: Crisis and Innovation in Latin America and Africa

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Challenging the State: Crisis and Innovation in Latin America and Africa

By Merilee S. Grindle
Cambridge University Press, 1996
243 pp. $49.95
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The scarcity of good books on the comparative politics of economic reform makes this solid study welcome. Through extended case studies of Mexico and Kenya, this non-technical work by a Harvard development specialist examines how the austerity enforced by lender and donor policies in the 1980s affected the institutional, administrative, and policymaking capacities of both governments, and how each responded to the political challenges posed by domestic interest groups critical of government performance. Grindle notes that neoclassical economists who see the market as a benign "invisible hand" often tend to see governments as an "invisible foot" that impedes healthy economic development. Her study shows, however, that governments and their capacity to manage change are central to the effective pursuit of development.

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