Foreign aid and the fragile consensus on state fragility

  • Jörg Faust
  • Jörn Grävingholt
  • Sebastian Ziaja


Most actors in the field of foreign aid agree with the call for coordinated engagement in fragile states in order to more effectively counter the consequences and origins of state failure. However, despite such demands, governments from OECD countries as well as multilateral agencies engaged in fragile states often continue to act in an uncoordinated manner and fail to reach higher levels of harmonisation. Why is effective coordination so hard to achieve? This article argues that three major challenges explain the persistent problems of donor harmonisation in fragile states: (1) the cognitive challenge of explaining the origins of state fragility and deducing effective instruments and interventions, (2) the political challenge of reconciling divergent political motives for engagement, as well as (3) the bureaucratic challenge related to the organisational logic of competing aid agencies.


conflict studies development studies donor coordination foreign aid fragile states policy coherence 



The authors thank Stephen Brown, Thomas Fues, Sven Grimm and Imme Scholz as well as two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and useful suggestions on earlier drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörg Faust
    • 1
  • Jörn Grävingholt
    • 1
  • Sebastian Ziaja
    • 1
  1. 1.German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)BonnGermany

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