What I found interesting about this article is the way Fukuyama defines the relationship between bureaucratic autonomy and capacity. Instead of following Weberian ideals which many believe would increase bureaucratic effectiveness, Fukuyama asserts that states with high institutionalization and capacity should have bureaucrats with high autonomy and flexibility. While he centers the article around measuring autonomy, I wonder how this could be researched given the lack of consensus on how to study capacity. Perhaps the size of bureaucracies and their education levels could indicate the capacity of a state? How could we give a country recommendations on their bureaucratic autonomy if we can’t measure their capacity in the first place?
Nathan, I think you make an interesting and valid point on the difficulties of measuring capacity. The tax extraction example that Fukuyama talked about shows the difference between potential and actual extraction rates. It is proven that a government should try to find the sweet spot between capacity and autonomy and perhaps we need to invest more in capacity measures performed by all branches of government, or give incentives to have proper capacity measures.
Exactly. How can we practically determine what the bureaucratic autonomy for a state should be if we cannot measure capacity? Perhaps there should be a set of government functions that are deemed essential, and capacity could be determined by assessing how many of those functions are met by a state, and how well the state meets them. Could we increase a bureaucracy’s autonomy in certain cases to increase capacity?
I felt Fukuyama was suggesting at points that capacity and autonomy grown together in some ways. The more autonomous the bureaucracy is, the more innovative it allows them to be and more control they have over what they do, thus giving them higher capacity. However, there are certainly times when this is just not the case and think you are right that there needs to be better ways to measure, aside from the taxes which he seems to dismiss as a flawed approach. I think it could be helpful then to look at outputs from the bureaucracy, while also trying to control for some outside agents that would create endogeneity .