Understanding external state-building, international governance, and the interdependencies between the two, is an extremely challenging task. It is a real life problem, which means that we need to get our empirical evidence from places which are not easily accessible for social research (e.g. from the often messy target states of interventions, and from the often quite abstract realm of the so called the international system). This requires a multidisciplinary approach, (political sciences, sociology, international law, social anthropology and their various sub-disciplines), with its attendant problems and limitations. Nevertheless, if social science wants to be more that just a belated companion of largely incomprehensible social processes going on in places like Afghanistan, Irak, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, East Timor, DR Congo, Somalia, Somaliland etc., we need to engage these problems in a more consistent way.1 In order to do so, I argue that we need to embrace in a much more thorough way the empirical realities on the ground. Secondly, we need to refine our concepts. Based on this, we may then be able to develop a better methodological tool kit for assessing the effects of state building measures - intentional or not –on troubled states.