Institutions, as an enduring collection of formal laws and informal rules, customs, codes of conduct, and organized practices, shape human interaction. As institutional scholars inform us, when formal and informal institutions complement each other they promote stability and consistency in collective life by creating definite, continuous, and organized patterns of basic activities of human society (Eisenstadt, 1968:409; North, 1990; March and Olsen, 1984; Helmke and Levitsky, 2003; Olsen, 2007).
When formal and informal institutions are incompatible with each other, however, social instability is likely to increase, due to increasing uncertainty and disorientation, which necessitate increased incentives or coercion to make people follow prescribed rules (Olsen, 2007). Most African countries suffer from a duality of and clashes between formal and informal institutions of governance. The duality is manifested in the adherence of rural populations, the overwhelming majority in most African countries, primarily to traditional institutions while the post-colonial state operates on institutions of governance, which are largely imported and often transplanted outside their cultural and socioeconomic milieus. The state sanctioned (formal) institutions are also often at odds with African socioeconomic realities and traditional cultural values. By failing to engage the institutions adhered to by large segments of the population, the formal institutions have also remained ineffective, especially in coordinating policy and resources with broad social interests, in preventing conflicts, as well as in promoting synergy in state-society relations. Under such conditions, they have been unable to facilitate a peaceful process of state-building or to promote democratic governance…[more]