The past decade has seen a fundamental change in beliefs about the appropriate role of the state in developing countries. Rather than being the executor of a state-led process of development, the state must become the facilitator for a far more heterogeneous process in which a coalition of different actors and institutions is involved. This view has been reached through various changes in thinking. Between about 1950 and 1980 the primacy of the state was relatively unchallenged. During the 1980s there was a liberal backlash, with the ‘New Political Economy’ view that the state and those who worked within it were innately incapable of doing the job that they should have been doing. This view was based on the notion that public servants are motivated only by self-interest (summary presented in Toye, 1991) and given depth by more moderate thinkers who took the view that ‘imperfect markets’ are better than ‘imperfect states’ (arguments reviewed in Colclough, 1991).