Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Institutional Architecture: Huh?

Ever wonder what “institutional architecture” really refers to and why we’d care about such an abstract concept? Read on.

But first, some important notes:

  • Public policy has significantly influenced the direction of economic growth and development, shaping the ability of citizens and firms to live up to their potential.

  • Even when governments have the political commitment towards food security, they and their stakeholders may not have the skills and resources for effective data analysis, inclusive consultations and sustained coordination across sectors and government agencies.

Therefore, as Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, strives to support countries as they improve food security, we need to understand not only the role of specific institutions — whether related to societal norms and values, government policies, market incentives, political systems or organizational processes — but how they relate to one another. 

That’s where institutional architecture comes in, by providing a framework for understanding and improving a country’s capacity to undertake transparent, inclusive, predictable and evidence-based policy change. This includes strengthening the capacities needed to manage new dynamics of engagement between citizens, their leaders, business, government and civil society.

As such, institutional architecture is one of three policy elements Feed the Future supports. The initiative supports countries as they develop their policy agendas, the institutional architecture that defines and implements those policies and the mutual accountability that ensures governments hold themselves accountable for commitments they have made to invest in the sector.

In practice, Feed the Future advances institutional architecture by supporting:

  1. institutional architecture assessments that help stakeholders understand possible constraints that could stymie effective policy change and identify priority areas to improve the capacity and performance of the food security policy system;

  2. reliable data and capacity for analysis that provide a sound evidence base for decision-making;

  3. mechanisms for inclusive consultation with stakeholders including the private sector, farmers’ and women’s organizations, universities, think tanks, the media and other non-state actors; and

  4. mechanisms for coordination across ministries, departments, levels of government and with those non-state actors.

To learn more, visit the institutional architecture resource page on Agrilinks and stay tuned for a webinar on the new Feed the Future policy indicators  including one based on the institutional architecture framework!  later this summer!