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Innovating Development Strategies in Africa is a bold and ambitious undertaking in which Professor Landry Signé, Africa's own esteemed and world-renowned expert on international and African affairs, masterfully illustrates more than five decades of economic development strategies and transformations in Africa… As a former head of state, I have been delighted to read this inspirational book, and would have loved having access to its prodigious perspective while in office as president of Malawi. I urge everyone, especially my fellow African leaders and our international counterparts, to read this remarkable book.

Professor Signé has produced a much needed road map to understand how and why the continent has been and is changing, and the different variations in these processes… The book chooses the option of greater complexity, by focusing on the interaction between the three variables in order to develop a more sophisticated theory of change, in which certain choices are made, while other, perhaps more desirable choices never seemed possible, at least in some of the countries of the region.

This seminal book is an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the policy-making process and evolution of economic development strategies in Africa. The book is an elegant demonstration of how Ideas, Interests and Institutions have evolved over time in Africa, including during the structural adjustment period, shaping the actions of international, regional, and national players. Landry Signé, one of the most innovative thinkers of his generation, takes the readers on an edifying journey that will change their views of Africa


First Female President of the Republic of Malawi and Africa's Second Female President 


(Ph.D. Princeton University, 1990)

Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government, Cornell University


Chief Economic, Africa Region, World Bank Group

Innovate or Fail! What will Africa choose?

Over the second half of the twentieth century, African states have shifted away from state-led development strategies and are instead moving toward a strategy of regional economic integration. In this book, Professor Landry Signé explores the key drivers of African policy and economic transformation, proposing a preeminent explanation of policy innovations in Africa through the examination of the postcolonial strategies for economic development. This book is indispensable to understand why African countries succeed or fail, and how to fix them.  


Africa is often portrayed as a (reluctant) consumer of externally imposed development strategies. Dr. Signe's book challenges this view. Using nine country case studies, he seeks to demonstrate that African countries were not passive recipients of internationally driven development programs... He argues that the heavy contestation about the appropriate role of State led to a push-and-pull between international and African ideas, interests, and processes related to development. This resulted in the emergence of new African development... This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the evolution and trajectories of development approaches in post-independence Africa. 

This book has two major strengths. It uses a framework in which interests, ideas and institutions all matter. This is surely right, and opens avenues of enquiry that are otherwise missed. The other is that is it manageably comparative: by focusing on nine countries of Francophone Africa it has an arena in which divergence can meaningfully be explored. We need more books like this.


Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Oxford University

Landry Signé has succeeded in applying rigorous, original thinking to one of the most important development issues of our time: the rapid economic and political changes occurring in much of Africa. Signé’s framework simultaneously captures the diversity of experiences across the continent while providing a consistent framework for understanding the forces behind these changes. This important work by a rising academic star is a must read for anyone interested in comparative politics, development policy, and international relations, especially in Africa.


Distinguished Professor and Donald F. McHenry Chair in Global Human Development at Georgetown University and former Chief Economist of USAID


Africa Program Director, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars

The Book


Professor Landry Signé is a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies, founding Chairman of the award-wining Global Network for Africa’s Prosperity, Professor of Political Science and Senior Adviser to the Chancellor and Provost on International Affairs at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow, and Special Adviser to African and global leaders. He is the author of numerous key publications in the political economy of development with a focus on Africa and has a special interest in the politics of economic reform, institutional change, emerging and frontier markets, global political economy, post-conflict reconstruction, political regimes, state capacity, public service delivery, and governance. He is the recipient of more than sixty prestigious awards and distinctions from four continents, and has been honored as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Desmond Tutu Fellow, and Andrew Carnegie Fellow and was listed as one of the “Top Ten Outstanding Young Persons in the World.” His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Harvard International Review, among other media.


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European Political Science Association (EPSA) Annual Conference 2017

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