Centre for the Future State

The Centre for the Future State is a Development Research Centre funded by the Department for International Development, UK and based at the Institute of Development Studies. The Centre links IDS researchers with a network of partner organisations and collaborators from Africa, Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, China and Egypt. Phase 1 of the Centre’s research programme ran from 2000-2005. Funding for a phase 2 programme was subsequently approved, to run from 2005-2010.

Mission and Objectives

The Centre’s mission is to harness the ideas and the research skills of applied social science researchers, in both developing and developed countries, to assist policymakers and citizens to find ways of increasing the effectiveness, accountability and responsiveness of public authority in poorer countries, and thus contribute to reducing poverty.

The Centre has three objectives, reflected in its core activities of research, policy influencing and capacity building:

  • To undertake and disseminate new research on key issues relating to the future of public authority in developing countries.
  • To help important audiences — including policymakers, politicians, political parties, scholars and civil society organisations — to understand and engage with the wide range of research that is being published on these issues.
  • To assist researchers from developing countries to contribute more effectively to research and applied development policy debates at regional and global levels.

Our approach

The potential agenda is huge, and our resources are limited. Our aim is to maximise long-term policy impact by:

  • Focusing, for a limited period of time, on a small number of research questions that are regarded as especially important, seem relatively under-explored, and are likely to generate high added value. An example under phase 1 was the links between tax and governance.
  • Based on dissemination of this “beacon” research, encouraging and supporting other researchers to investigate the issues more fully.
  • Identifying, synthesising and disseminating important related research by other scholars, and making it accessible to policymakers.

A central feature of our approach is comparative research, both within and between different countries. This draws on and enhances the knowledge and resources of all CFS partners. Under phase 2 there has been increasing collaboration between Southern partners (for example comparative work on informal institutions in India and Pakistan). There has also been increasing interaction with Southern policymakers.