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The Imperative of State-Building Report

What the article is about

The theme of the article is brought out in the introduction section of the paper where the author highlighted that he was investigating state building.

This is a situation in which the government is involved in the creation of new institutions that serve different functions in the economy so that they can reinforce the existing institutions.

The ability of the state to formulate new institutions is significant to the success of the state since it will be able to eradicate many issues affecting the economy.

However, failure of the state to formulate such institutions enables many vices to take root with common ones being increased poverty cases, HIV/Aids, crime and drug trafficking among many. Fukuyama argues that the effectiveness of the formulated institutions is based on certain habits of the mind so that they operate in complex ways that resist being moved.1 Through initiation of new institutions, the government is strengthened rather than weakened and the article recommends that it should be the top agenda of every government.

The article sites a good example of governments in developing economies that are the source of many issues affecting the economies such as poverty and AIDS epidemic that are common in African states.

What we already know about the topic

Fukuyama established what we already know by calling on the already reviewed literature on the issue of state building.2 He argues that weak state problem is not new in the global economy as it has existed for a long time with the September 11 attacks pointing out the obvious.

The issue of modernity and governance is not caused by poverty since the organizers of the September 11 attacks came from well off backgrounds and were recruited in different countries away from their native country.

The attack revealed a major issue in the west, the problem that comes with liberal democracy’s political and cultural freedom. This is largely wanted by many people across the globe as it is witnessed by increased number of immigrants and refugees ranging from countries that are less developed to developed countries.

Fukuyama argues that although the West was able to achieve liberalism, many countries across the globe such those in East Asia have been able to successfully make the transition over two generations while other developing countries such as those in Africa are stuck or have regressed over the same period.

Despite the advance in the cultural freedom, Fukuyama established that it is not evident whether the institutions of the West are universal across the globe. It is clear that they are outgrowth of cultural habits of certain parts of the European world.

There are controversies over the size and strength of the state that is shaped by the 21st century. The liberal international order was the initial factor that was presided over by the UK, where the state of non-military state activity was narrow.

All members of EU copied the style while in the U.S., it was more restricted. The progress of the century through war, depression and revolution led to the crumbling of the world order with the minimalist state order giving way to the centralized active form.

According to Fukuyama, the theme of policy in the 1980s and 1990s was the reduction of the size of the state sector where many countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia rose from authoritarian rule.3

Through the measures offered by the U.S., the IMF and the World Bank, the intervention of the state in economic affairs was minimized. However, the policy came under attack from anti-globalization protesters and academic critics because economic liberalization had failed to deliver reforms in many countries.

Despite the attacks, the policy had good intentions to state governments since many sectors of the state in developing countries were impediments to growth and only economic liberalization could fix the problem.

Although the state had to be cut back, this was only to happen in some areas while the other sectors were to be strengthened through formation of new institutions.

Fukuyama further argues that at the time when cutting the activities was important, the agenda of strengthening government institutions through establishment of new institutions was also significant although it was not given any thought.

Reforms were not achieved due to many factors even after cutting back state activities. In some cases, the state was ill equipped and lacked proper institutional framework with the problem lying in the lack of proper conceptual framework.

How the author conducted the research

Conducting the research is a significant aspect of any given study since it helps the researcher understand the research phenomena.

Though there are various significant methods of research such as qualitative and quantitative, the method chosen by the researcher determines the data collected and the type of analysis undertaken.This article by Fukuyama utilized qualitative research method that involved collection of qualitative data.4

Fukuyama preferred secondary research rather than primary research where he collected data from secondary sources from previously conducted studies on the same issue of state building and strengthening of state institutions.

The importance of qualitative study is that it enabled the researcher to fully understand state building and strengthening of the state through establishment of new institutions.

The findings of the study

The findings of the study measured the scope of the state against its strengths and power and it began by asking whether the state in the U.S. was weak or strong. It was established that political institutions in the U.S. are designed to weaken and limit the power of the state.

Born in the revolution against the authority, the U.S. ended up having anti-statist political culture through the constraints of the power of the state and the constitution. It is also evident from the study that the welfare U.S. was established later and it remained limited as compared to other democracies that are developed.

On the contrary, the United State’s government is very strong as it is able to enforce every law. Law is enforced by all means including using the armed officers such as the police.

These mixed outcomes from the study can be summed up to mean that the U.S. government has a limited government that has its activities restricted by its scope. However, within the scope, there is ample power to formulate and carry out laws and policies.

Following the above argument, it was important that Fukuyama differentiates scope of the state activities and the strength of the state.5

He argues that the scope indicates different functions and goals of the state while the strength implies the power of the state that is closely related to the ability of the government to enforce laws.

By distinguishing between the two, Fukuyama was able to create a matrix that differentiates the degree of stateness of a government.

It is clear that hierarchy is essential in the government. The functions of the state are divided into three categories that are the minimal, intermediate and activist.

The other way to establish the functions of the state is to compare the strengths of the various states in different countries in terms of their capabilities on law enforcement.

Following this, some states are skillful and able to reform their institutions while others are unable. Therefore, the states can be divided into these quadrants in the figure below.

State Scope and Strength

The U.S. can be categorized in both quadrant I and II since it has a less extensive state as compared to France or Japan. On the contrary, Turkey and Brazil have funneled large chunks of their GDPs through sectors of the state by running nationalized industries. They have also regulated and protected various economic activities.

Significance and implications of the findings

This study is significant in the modern world since it enhances understanding of the strengths, scope and powers of different states.

While some state sectors need to be reformed and be done away with, the ability of the state to formulate new institutions that can strengthen existing institutions is significant in strengthening the state. The state has the power to formulate and enforce laws and regulations.

The ability of the government to execute its functions well without any issues can enable it to attain economic development. This can be used to explain why most developing economies are not yet developed.

Their states are weak in formulating and performing their duties effectively and they need strengthening through formulation of other powerful institutions.


Fukuyama, Francis. “The imperative of State-building.” Journal of Democracy 15.2 (2004): 17-31


1 Francis, Fukuyama. The imperative of State-building. Journal of Democracy 15.2 (2004): p. 18.

2 Francis, Fukuyama. The imperative of State-building. Journal of Democracy 15.2 (2004): p. 19.

3 Francis, Fukuyama. The imperative of State-building. Journal of Democracy 15.2 (2004): p. 21.

4 Francis, Fukuyama. The imperative of State-building. Journal of Democracy 15.2 (2004): p. 21.

5 Francis, Fukuyama. The imperative of State-building. Journal of Democracy 15.2 (2004): p. 26.

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"The Imperative of State-Building." IvyPanda, 4 Oct. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-imperative-of-state-building/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Imperative of State-Building." October 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-imperative-of-state-building/.


IvyPanda. "The Imperative of State-Building." October 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-imperative-of-state-building/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "The Imperative of State-Building." October 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-imperative-of-state-building/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Imperative of State-Building'. 4 October.

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