About Building State Capability

Who we are

Many government policies and reforms fail to deliver results. Schools get built, but children do not learn; IT systems are introduced but no one uses them; and plans are written but not implemented. Our research ties such failure to the tendency of governments to adopt external ‘solutions’ that do not fit their context and overwhelm their capability to implement policies and programs.

Building State Capability (BSC) at Harvard’s Center for International Development empowers public organizations to find context appropriate solutions to their problems, thus improving the implementation of their policies and programs. We find that governments can build their capabilities by employing tools and processes that allow their own people to find and fit solutions to their country’s problems. We believe in resolving public problems with purpose.

What we do

We have developed Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), a learning by doing approach, that helps organizations develop the capability to solve complex problems while they are solving such problems. PDIA is a step-by-step approach which helps policy practitioners break down complex problems into root causes, identify entry points for action, search for possible solutions, take small steps, reflect upon lessons learned, adapt, and then iterate. It is a dynamic process with tight feedback loops that allows organizations to build their own solutions that fit their local context. Complex problem-solving is a journey of discovery that allows the emergence of skills and solutions. We build capability by delivering results.

We train teams around the world to solve complex public problems, offer online and executive courses to thousands of participants, and produce papers, blogs, as well as podcasts on a wide range of topics in international development.

Our Blog

The BSC blog, launched in 2013, now features over 500 stories from practitioners in 73 countries around the globe who are working to solve some of the world’s most pressing and complex problems and has over half a million all-time views. You can easily search the blog by topic or geographic region of interest, making it an invaluable resource for policy practitioners worldwide. We expect that just a few minutes of browsing will leave you hungry for more.

Map depicting number of blogs in each geographic region

More details on BSC’s programs, research initiatives, and publications can be found on our website: www.bsc.cid.harvard.edu. Subscribe to our blog at www.buildingstatecapability.com and follow us on Twitter at @HarvardBSC.

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