Business, Markets and the State

The debate on the role of business, markets and states in development has a long history, marked by divergent and often strongly held perspectives, but also relatively rapid shifts in understanding about what is feasible and desirable. Only two decades ago debates were framed in terms of the state versus the market. Today, questions relates more to the appropriate roles of each. There is general recognition that business, including through its interactions with the state, has a major impact on human development and the natural environment, contributing both to failures and to new market-focused solutions, initiatives and partnerships.

Our research generates new evidence and addresses pressing knowledge gaps in this field. We employ diverse theoretical perspectives which include political economy, value chain analysis and market systems approaches, for example, alongside a fine-grained understanding of the ways in which states and businesses engage and influence one another. Our work focuses on six thematic areas that are crucial for economic systems to deliver inclusive development. These are: Work, Enterprise Development, Trade, Finance, Alternative Economies and Food & Nutrition.

To understand our unique mix of expertise and how we work with others toward inclusive economies and sustainable development, see our Business, Markets and the State Position Paper Series.

Our Business, Markets and the State cluster also manages the IDS Business and Development Centre.




Image of Amrita Saha

Amrita Saha

Research Fellow

Image of Ayako Ebata

Ayako Ebata

Research Fellow

Image of Carlos Fortin

Carlos Fortin

Research Associate

Image of Dirk Willenbockel

Dirk Willenbockel

Research Fellow

Image of Edward Jackson

Edward Jackson

Honorary Associate

Image of Emilie Wilson

Emilie Wilson

Communications and Impact Officer

Image of Evert-jan Quak

Evert-jan Quak

Research Officer

Image of Jing Gu

Jing Gu

Research Fellow, Centre Director



Innovation and Complementary Capabilities for Vaccines

The global competition to develop vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic has collapsed the typical timescale in which new technologies gain market dominance and leave alternatives behind. Despite the high number of vaccines in development, at the start of this study only three have been...


Conceptualisation of Earmarked Taxes to Support Food Fortification

Food fortification is one of the most rapid, cost-effective, scalable and evidence-based impactful strategies to reach hundreds of millions to combat micronutrient malnutrition, when delivered as intended (Horton, 2006, Keats et al., 2019; Mbuya et al., 2020; Saha et al, 2021). However, the...


Urbanisation in Africa and China

As African countries experience rapid urbanisation, there is a need to ensure that this process is well managed, and underpinned by strong public policy and social governance, to support economic development and social welfare. China has much to share from its experience of rapid...


Foresight for new collaborative platforms to support LMIC science systems

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it has become clear that we require systemic change across societies, and that as a consequence we need transformational pathways of development. This in turn requires knowledge that is transformative, both in terms of its focus, and how it...

Recent work


Can inclusive trade policy tackle multiple global challenges?

International trade contributes to economic growth and development, not just through flows of goods and services, but also in connecting different people and cultures. Yet, as the world faces multiple and interrelated global challenges, international trade is often heavily attributed. As the...

Image of Amrita Saha

Amrita Saha & 2 others

23 June 2022

Past Event

Inclusive trade

Trade links: New rules for a new world

In this seminar, James Bacchus explained how to bring the World Trade Organization (WTO) into the twenty-first century, exploring the ways it can be utilized to combat future pandemics and climate change and advance sustainable development, all while continuing to foster free trade. Watch...

16 June 2022

Impact Story

Influencing donor policy on financial services for the poor

This year, the findings of a study of financial inclusion undertaken by IDS and the University of East Anglia (UEA) contributed to a major investigation by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) into the US Government’s multi-million-dollar microenterprise and microfinance development...

3 May 2022