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Social Science Research Network (SSRN)


For scholars of Africa's political economy, an important problem has been explaining and understanding how a country escapes rule by criminals and warlords and instead comes to be directed by a set of lower-key kleptocrats who operate within a set of institutions which on the whole promote incentives and preferences for good "governance". In this paper, we look at how a state has emerged in Burkina Faso which has overall been benevolent and developmental, at least by Sahelian standards. We argue that a host of factors have spared the modern state a substantial social challenge and have allowed for relatively efficient institutions. A second problem, however, is that escaping the Hobbesian state of nature and generating good governance and state capacity may be necessary but not sufficient conditions to foster sustained growth and a developmental take-off. We look again at Burkina, this time as an embodiment of such a paradoxical situation of a developmental state without growth. The case of Burkina leads us to hypothesize that a second condition, beyond developmental statehood, must be fulfilled for sustained growth: namely, there must exist the conditions for an entrepreneurial class of sufficient size, whether domestic or international, to create wealth. The sense in which we use the label entrepreneurial class is not the usual one of individuals able and willing to "break with tradition" and see opportunities and profit from them, but rather a narrower one: of individuals who are able to create organizations that as entities seek and profit from new and continuing opportunities. The entrepreneur hires employees and establishes a firm. Relative shortages in this factor, and constraints that prevent the flourishing of entrepreneurship are, we believe, responsible for slow growth in Burkina.

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Economics Commons



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