Fukuyama Visits Stanford

Political scientist Francis Fukuyama graced the halls of Encina on Thursday, November 1, 2007. Speaking to a crowd of roughly 100 students and faculty, Fukuyama shared his views on governance and international development.

Fukuyama, a professor at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, described a series of causal models showing linkages between economic growth, social mobility, democracy, rule of law, and state capacity. The current orthodoxy espoused by the World Bank focuses on both the rule of law and state capacity, whereas other real-world models start with just social mobility (the Ukraine), economic growth (Bangladesh), or state capacity (South Korea).

There are many ways to develop, Fukuyama argued. He added that development theoreticians were wrong in the 1980s and ‘90s to pretend they alone knew the right way.
He explained that the “donor community can never be the lead motor” in development. Local actors with local knowledge, he argued, are critical because they understand the system in which they live better than do development experts in Washington, who have typically insisted that developing societies adjust to liberal democratic models of state institutions rather than the other way around.

He also cautioned that “sometimes the actors are just not there” in developing countries.
The fast-paced and fluid speech on “The Governance Agenda in International Development”—originally billed as a seminar sponsored by the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, but converted into a lecture due to the volume of RSVPs—attracted a high-profile audience, including Professors Gerhard Casper, Stephen Krasner, Larry Diamond, Scott Sagan, and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss. Alejandro Toledo, former Peruvian president and now a Hoover distinguished visiting fellow, was also spotted in the front row.
Fukuyama said he hopes to “broaden the discourse” to consider the multidimensionality of developmental questions. He advised: “If you hit a brick wall, just stop trying to move forward.”

Subscribe to the Stanford Review