This chapter discusses the application of the theory of spontaneous order to the study of fragile states. Rejecting the state-centric approach, the theory indicates that the stability of these structures depends on the compatibility of the state apparatus with endogenous institutions functioning in a given area. This makes it possible to explain the phenomenon of the “resource curse” and the negative impact of foreign aid on the effectiveness of democratic institutions. It also shows that the consolidation of power within centralised state structures leads to a weakening of the importance of local structures. The chapter describes the destabilising effect of such a process in the example of attempts to rebuild state structures in Somalia after 1991.

The spontaneous order theory’s rejection of the state-centric approach also leads to criticism of the concept of hybrid political orders. Although the latter recognises the role of local structures in the formation of a political order, it puts this order in the framework of centralised state structures. Rejecting this approach, the spontaneous order theory provides a broader view of the problem of fragile states, including the issue of the legitimacy of the state and the consolidation of decision-making processes. In particular, this indicates that the lack of a state can serve the purpose of cooperation and social order better than the existence of inefficient state structures that undermine local institutions.