Summary The World Development Report represents a welcome change from the World Bank’s previous conceptions of the state and development. It is more nuanced, and recognises the intimate relationships between economics and other realms – notably politics – as well as the complexity of these links. The role of states and institutions in development is finally taken seriously, as is the necessity for their reinvigoration and for increasing their capabilities. However, the strictly political dimension of these states must be more deeply analysed, and more attention paid to international governance, which is particularly important for weak states in a globalised world. These issues are important if the World Bank itself is to be a more effective actor and more successfully promote reform.