Institutional Development and Reform in Small States: Evidence from the Commonwealth Caribbean

Deryck R. Brown


This paper focuses on institutional development in government among a group of small, developing states in the English-speaking (Commonwealth) Caribbean. The institutions under consideration in this context are those that support socioeconomic development, typically government ministries and departments. The paper recognizes the importance of high-performing institutions to good governance and development. However, there is both anecdotal and empirical evidence to suggest that weak institutional capacity is a common problem among Caribbean countries. Based on an extensive review of literature and field experience, the paper describes six "binding constraints" on the ability of small Caribbean states to provide sound public institutions which, in turn, cripples their efforts to promote development. Several highly selective lessons of Caribbean experience drawn from evaluations carried out by various donors are examined. These lessons should inform both donors and the small states themselves in designing future institutional development and reform measures.

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