Mariana Prado, Susan D. Franck, & John Cioffi
Should We Adopt a “What Works” Approach in Law and Development?
My comments will be mostly connected to Tom’s third question, relating to the future, and I would like to start by responding to Salil Mehra. I generally agree that there is an excessive focus on replicable “tools” and “best practices” in Law and Development studies, but I think there are a lot of questions to be asked regarding Mehra’s suggestion that the way forward involves addressing embedded cultural practices and institutions. In fact, there are currently a number of scholars (myself included) emphasizing the importance of looking at the interaction between so-called informal institutions (such as cultural practices, social norms, and historically entrenched attitudes and values). The problem is that although most of these analyses are very helpful in understanding what went wrong and why the “toolkit” did not work in a given context, they do not tell us how to improve our efforts going forward. So, like the “blueprint” Law and Development scholars, the “context matters” Law and Development scholars are not helping the field move forward.