This is from a book review by Michell (1920):

"[...] provinces tried to meet the need [of tackling unemployment] by [...], but the limitations of purely provincial and unrelated bureaus became early so apparent, that [federal intervention was warranted...]"

Note: "Limitations" here refer to the bureaus/offices being ill organized, poorly coordinated, ill informed, and short of manpower and finance. The book talks about these problems explicitly.

I am wondering which noun below fits my paraphrasing:

  1. The provincial offices lacked resources to deal with such conditions of unemployment.

I feel that Resources does not capture the idea of ill organized and poorly coordinated. However, improving organization and coordination needs resources. So it can be said that because the offices lacked resources, they were poorly organized and coordinated, and hence did not have the means to deal with the problem.

  1. The provincial offices lacked the capability to deal with such conditions of unemployment.

Capability according to Cambridge is the ability to do something. I feel that this is more appropriate: organization, coordination, and resources such as money, data and manpower, can all affect the ability to do something; in this case, affected the ability to deal with unemployment.

  • 1
    The word limitations is not specific. It means no more than "limiting factors or characteristics". In that regard it is similar to issues and many other general terms.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 21:31
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo That is in general, right? In my case (from reading the books and the review), 'limitations' referred to the problems that I mentioned.
    – AIQ
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 21:40
  • 1
    It can be used to encompass them or to refer to them, but it is not their equivalent. The general issue is not equivalent to the specific "agoraphobia", but it can be used to refer to it. That issue can be treated with behavioral conditioning therapies... The general category can always be substituted for the specific, but not vice versa.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 21:42
  • 1
    Why are you trying to rewrite a book like this?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 15:23
  • @Lambie Sorry I don't understand your comment. I was trying to paraphrase that particular section.
    – AIQ
    Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 23:53

2 Answers 2


We can't know the exact meaning from the context you've provided. All we know is that the agencies were not able to do this job due to some unspecified "limitation". It might even be a polite way of saying they had a limited worldview and so did not think think it worth fixing this particular problem.

Of course we can speculate, given what else we've been told about the circumstances. But the term "limitation" itself only describes a value, and not what is being measured. For that we have to have more information.


During the busy holiday season the store was limited in its ability to sell the toy to customers, as the manufacturer produced far less of it than the demand required.

During the busy holiday season the store was limited in its ability to sell the toy to customers, as its buyers didn't anticipate such a high demand and consequently didn't order sufficient numbers.

During the busy holiday season the store was limited in its ability to sell the toy to customers, as most of its workers chose that week to go on strike, and it was too late to hire temporary replacements.

(edit) Your added information tells us the author mentions a number of ways the bureaus were limited, all of which can't be contained in a single word. They were poorly funded, they were understaffed, they were ill-equipped, they didn't have enough information, and various other reasons.

Not all of these would necessary apply to every bureau, of course -- some might have been well-funded, but staffed by incompetent or unmotivated employees.

  • I can't seem to tag you. I am aware that "limitations" can mean a lot of things. But, In my case it means exactly those problems that I mentioned (problems of organization, coordination, money, manpower, data). They are mentioned in the book.
    – AIQ
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 22:10

You should use both. It is clear and still concise.

If you must choose, use capability because it the more fundamental problem.

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