Robert Jackson and Carl Rosberg, “Why Africa’s weak states persist: the empirical and the juridical in statehood,” World Politics 35: 1-24.

Key Definitions:
Empirical Statehood: Measurable outcomes of state performance (monopolization of violence, ‘effectiveness,’ etc.)
Juridical Statehood: Legal conceptions of statehood (i.e. territory, recognition by international community)
Summary: Jackson and Rosberg argue that in order to understand the African experience with persistent (empirically) weak states, we must disaggregate the concept of ‘State.’  African states tend to be empirically weak, and the authors propose a few reasons as to why: that political authority tends to be personal instead of institutional; that the apparatus of power (i.e. the administration and government itself) is underdeveloped; and, that economic circumstances have tended to be unfavourable to African States.  The upshot is, that most African states cannot be considered ‘states’ if we rely sheerly on empirical criteria. The solution is to depend instead on juridical criteria.  Here the authors note that juridical statehood has persisted, even as empirical statehood has fluctuated.  They credit its persistence to four factors: the ideology of Pan-Africanism; the vulnerabilities of states in the region and the shared insecurity of statesmen; the support of the larger international community, and; the reluctance of external powers to intervene in African affairs.  Essentially, the juridical state persists because costs of exit are high, and the benefits of membership are also high. The authors conclude by noting that the international community may be contributing to the continuation of incompetent and corrupt governments due to the international structure.
Important Insight: Key is the distinction between empirical and juridical stateness, and the idea that a state can persist without functioning adequately simply by meeting basic criteria (or simply by already having the label).
Critique: The authors don’t consider the possibility that it is in the interests of the international system to keep juridical states in Africa in existence without them becoming empirically effective.