Success Project

NYU Development Research Institute >> About >> Success Project

Development research is almost exclusively focused on the success and failure of nations, yet many spontaneous forces –such as values, technology, and networks– operate at scales either larger or smaller than the nation.

The Success Project is a new research endeavor that will look beyond the national unit to investigate the role of non-national actors in development success, exploring questions at the heart of how development happens. The introduction of non-national units of analysis will free us from an outdated paradigm that exalts nationalism above all other values—and will ultimately equip us to better understand the role of non-national actors and processes in development success.

The project proposes to correct the national unit bias by focusing on neighborhoods, cities, tribes, technologies, diasporas, networks, and individuals. We will ask whether and how non-national actors have worked around the state and other national institutions to create development success.  We will explore the specific mechanisms and processes through which technologies, spontaneous orders, networks, and individuals contribute to economic dynamism.

At a critical moment for the future of the world’s poorest peoples, DRI’s case studies on non-national spontaneous forces will rigorously add to existing knowledge about whether decentralized efforts can yield unexpected individual success stories and unexpectedly prosperous societies.

This project is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.