our research

State Formation

Organisational capacity in the State is often a consequence of long-term historical processes that have favoured the emergence of professional administrations. War and preparation for war were not the decisive processes through which contemporary states emerged, unlike in Europe and Asia. Colonialism and Apartheid were. This gives the African and the South African State their particular features.

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Social Change

How government works is not simply a function of its internal mechanics and cultures. State organisations are embedded in broader social relations that affect what they can and cannot do. The compliance of citizens’ in paying tariffs and fees sets the limits on what is possible for departments and agencies.

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Institutional Dynamics

What is the relationship between the formal mandate of the organisation and the activities of its various stakeholders? PARI has pioneered the field of organisational and institutional studies in South Africa. Using social science methodologies researchers at the institute explore how organisations are structured and staffed, how resources are allocated and personnel incentivised and how power is exercised and legitimised to understand what organisations do and why.

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Applied Research

PARI is interested in understanding how government works as much as it is in assisting it to work better. The legacy of Apartheid means that the vast majority of South Africans are dependent on the State for key services, not least in health and in education. As long as clinics and hospitals and schools perform poorly, the struggle for social justice in South Africa is set back. PARI leverages its work on institutional dynamics in government organisations to identify and design ways of improving how organisations function.

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