Concerns about failed and fragile states have put state- and nation-building firmly on the academic and policy agenda. The crucial role of public services in this process has remained under-explored. The 1960s and 70s generated a substantial set of literature on state- and nation-building that is largely absent from current writings that focus on developing countries. This literature, mainly focusing on Western European countries, identified state penetration, standardisation, and accommodation as key processes in the state- and nation-building sequence. In this paper we analyse these processes of state- and nation-building in Western Europe in the 17th-19th centuries, and the role of public services therein, to explore how they may help us to understand the success and failure of state- and nation-building in developing countries and fragile states. We end with a number of key lessons and questions for international donors.

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Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham.
Department of Public Administration

Van de Walle, S., & Scott, Z. (2009). The role of public services in state- and nation building: Exploring lessons from European history for fragile states. Retrieved from