1.4 Developing institutions: rules and relationships
i. Framing development
One answer to the last question is that having the acknowledged right to do something comes from working within a recognised institutional framework. Because institutions are ‘sets of rules’, and action – including advocacy – which works within the rules can be seen to be legitimate.
That in itself would make institutions important. But there is more to institutions than that:
Institutions are the norms, rules, habits, customs and routines (both formal and written, or, more often, informal and internalised) which govern society at large. They influence the function, structure and behaviour of organisations … Institutions, by producing stable, shared and commonly understood patterns of behaviour, are crucial to solving the problems of collective action amongst individuals.
You can probably appreciate from that why development management pays particular attention to institutional development, why development managers are preoccupied with getting the right institutions, with getting the institutions right. Whether development actions relate to poverty, livelihoods, health, hunger, the environment or emergencies, their successful management depends on establishing a good institutional framework within which development can be sustained.