How to Improve Governance

How to Improve Governance: A New Framework for Analysis and Action

David de Ferranti
Justin Jacinto
Anthony J. Ody
Graeme Ramshaw
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 189
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  • Book Info
    How to Improve Governance
    Book Description:

    In recent years, the developing world has seen a burst of efforts to reduce corruption, increase transparency and accountability, and improve governance. Needless to say, this is an important and encouraging development. However, the lack of a reliable compass to describe where a country is at a given moment -and where it could be heading in the absence or acceptance of proposed reforms -can result in disastrous missteps. The unfortunate absence of such a guide has helped lead to innumerable failed governments or ineffective regimes. This important book aims to fill that void.

    How to Improve Governanceemphasizes the need for an overall analytical framework that can be applied to different countries to help analyze their current situations, identify potential areas for improvement, and assess their relative feasibility and the steps needed to promote them. A country-specific analysis needs to be comprehensive, in the sense that it includes the four concepts of transparency, accountability, governance, and anticorruption throughout the calculus. Without such an analytic framework, any reform attempt is likely to flounder for lack of a shared understanding of the underlying problems and of the feasible reforms. The book gives special emphasis to the potential for civil society groups to play a stronger role in holding governments accountable for their use of public resources, and to the importance of developing politically feasible, prioritized country strategies for reform.

    "Whether one looks at how to increase domestic demand for good governance, how to make government more accountable to the public, or how to build democratic processes that deliver results, the underlying issues are essentially the same.... As development actors of various types... seek to help, more and more of them are calling for a clearer conceptual framework to guide their efforts." -From the Introduction

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0353-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Part I: The Challenge

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-13)

      An African cabinet minister was recently visited by separate teams of eager-to-help foreigners over a three-month period. One team extolled the importance of strengthening transparency in public affairs. A second had similar counsel on accountability, a third on good governance, and a fourth on fighting corruption.¹ Each had a ready-to-roll package of recommended actions.

      Some advocated supply-side measures, so-called because they seek to improve the performance of governments, the suppliers of governance. Create or improve specially empowered government bodies, some said. Or redraw the government structurally, get more training for bureaucrats, adopt better laws (for example, freedom of information laws),...

    • 2 Do Transparency, Accountability, Governance, and Corruption Matter?
      (pp. 14-28)

      Before the analytical framework for understanding and strengthening governance is set out, a precursor question needs to be addressed: Does good governance matter? In other words, are there compelling enough reasons to make strengthening governance a priority for the international development community? The answers to these questions have important implications for everything that follows.

      For some, transparency, accountability, governance, and anticorruption are desirable ends on their own, regardless of whether they lead to other benefits in terms of how societies function or other positive outcomes. Proponents of this view see support for their position in studies such asVoices of...

  5. Part II: The Response

    • 3 Overview
      (pp. 31-34)

      Part I concluded that improved governance matters to countries, in part because it is linked to improved development outcomes. But what determines why one country has better governance than another? And how can groups within a country, or sympathetic outside actors, help to improve those standards?

      These questions provide the context for this and the following chapters. Among other goals, this discussion seeks to respond to the call—by the African minister cited at the outset of chapter 1 and by many others—for an integrated analytical framework to help understand what influences standards of accountability, transparency, and governance across...

    • 4 Principals and Agents
      (pp. 35-52)

      A principal-agent relationship, according to the standard theory, is an arrangement under which one actor, referred to as theagent, is charged with performing certain acts that are useful to another actor, called theprincipal, typically in exchange for compensation from the principal. This basic model, while originally developed in a business management context, has subsequently been widely used to illuminate the interactions between citizens and their government.¹

      The original relationship modeled by the principal-agent theory is that of the owner or owners of a firm who hire a manager or managers to run their firm. The owners will have...

    • 5 Interest Group Dynamics
      (pp. 53-58)

      The principal-agent model discussed in chapter 4 presents a number of important insights. At the same time, a model composed of citizens on one side and the government on another is an oversimplification of reality. As our discussion of the problem of collective action hinted, there may be multiple players in the game, each pushing for its own particular interests.

      Various theories of political science seek to address this aspect of political systems by explaining how different interest groups compete to advance their interests through government action (or inaction). In classic pluralist theories, accountability is found in the overall design...

    • 6 Signals and Actions
      (pp. 59-65)

      Thus far, we have looked only in the broadest of terms at the ways in which the different actors we have been discussing—citizens, the public sector, and other sectors such as business—interact and communicate with each other. But the specific ways in which actors communicate their goals and intentions can make a great difference to outcomes. And this is particularly relevant to the design and effectiveness of any concrete efforts by citizens and intermediaries to try to improve standards of governance.

      This chapter explains the significance of these aspects by drawing on insights from signal theory.Signalsand...

    • 7 Political Systems
      (pp. 66-71)

      So far, our discussion of interactions between citizens (and civil society intermediaries) and governments has largely abstracted from the specifics of different national political systems. Yet it is obvious that the potential ability of citizens and NGOs to influence their government will be very different depending on whether they are working within a well-established electoral democracy, in which there are competitive elections, a lively media, and respect for the rule of law and freedom of speech, or a single party autocracy, in which the regime controls all media and criticism of the ruling elite invites prosecution or regime-sanctioned violence. Similarly,...

    • 8 Interventions
      (pp. 72-82)

      Previous chapters have provided the basis for a better understanding of the actors and mechanisms involved in existing systems of accountability. The present chapter focuses on types of actions (interventions) for trying to improve governance that may be open to domestic groups like CSOs and that may deserve support from international groups such as NGOs, foundations, and multilateral development agencies.

      Application of the analytical framework discussed in previous chapters should make it possible to create a map of the actors, institutions, and processes involved in the functioning of a given country’s system of governance and accountability. This is important because...

  6. Part III: Operationalizing the Framework

    • 9 Application at Country Level
      (pp. 85-110)

      Earlier chapters have presented a series of models relevant to the book’s central concern with the quality of governance, including levels of accountability and transparency and the control of corruption. The discussion has placed special emphasis on the potential for civil society groups to play a stronger role in promoting higher standards of governance, while also warning of some of the obstacles to be expected, including resistance from interests that benefit from opaque public decisionmaking.

      Many of the models and insights offered in the earlier parts of the book are derived from theoretical work in various branches of the social...

  7. Appendixes:: Country Case Studies

    • A Transparency and Accountability in Ghana’s Budget Process
      (pp. 113-126)
    • B Transparency and Accountability in Kenya’s Budget Process
      (pp. 127-141)
    • C Transparency and Accountability in Peru’s Budget Process
      (pp. 142-148)
    • D Transparency and Accountability in Mexico’s Budget Process
      (pp. 149-161)
    • E Transparency and Accountability in Thailand’s Budget Process
      (pp. 162-172)
    • F Four Composite Country Cases of Attempted Governance Reforms
      (pp. 173-178)
  8. List of Acronyms
    (pp. 179-182)
  9. Index
    (pp. 183-190)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-192)