Solveig Richter | 2017

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – Illegitimate rule through State Capture in post-war and transitional societies

in: Zeitschrift für Friedens– und Konfliktforschung 6:2 , pp.174-206.

In many post-conflict and transition countries the boundaries between legal and illegal forms of lobbying and decision-making are increasingly blurred. It seems that the state and state institutions are literally >captured< by the private interests of elites and their networks. In the past years, the term >state capture< was increasingly applied by academics, think tanks, international organizations and civil society actors alike to describe a destructive form of corruption. However, we still miss analytical clarity to describe and explain this phenomenon. In the paper, I will develop state capture as an innovative analytical framework as a way to overcome the affirmative and catch-all use of the term and to allow for a discriminate application of this concept in future research. I define state capture as a form of informal governance which is strengthened during periods of political transition. I argue that formal state institutions get >hijacked< by entrenched clientele networks who give their informal ways of decision making (e.g. by corruption) a formal mantle. At worse, a captured state is unable to reform and adapt, thus caught in a stagnating hybrid status quo and showing strong resilience to any change. With the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina I will demonstrate the plausibility of the concept for analyzing special forms of informal governance.

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