March 10, 2011
  Governance Information Bulletin #23 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid and Governance Strategies

Beatrice Pouligny

In this working paper, Beatrice Pouligny writes about how state resilience and state building are impacted by intangible factors such as political cultures and institutions in civil society. She argues that these factors need to be better integrated into capacity building reforms and the use of existing resources at the local level to promote good governance. In this way, Pouligny shows how impressions of ‘chaos’ at the local level are often misguided. Although state structures may be fragile, their resiliency can improve if better integrated with existing institutions from the bottom-up. Finally, the author concludes with recommendations for integration of intangible factors into the priorities and modalities of European aid..>>>

David Booth

In “Aid, Institutions and Governance,” David Booth reviews the evolution of theoretical hypotheses about the relationship between social institutions and economic growth to determine how they have evolved over time. In particular, the author explores how concepts related to institutional theory, country ownership, and the limits of donors can foster institutional change. Booth argues that our understanding of development and governance has improved dramatically over the past ten years. He shows that development practitioners are more aware of how institutions can promote economic growth and civil society as well as the limitations of development instruments in overcoming institutional constraints. Lastly, he argues institutional change can only be facilitated with reference to the political context in which those institutions exist. >>>

Lindsay Whitfield

In “Reframing the Aid Debate,” Lindsay Whitfield of the Danish Institute of International Studies explores the current critiques of the development aid paradigm. The dominant paradigm assumes that developed countries can apply resources and technical knowledge to help solve institutional and economic problems in developing countries. Whitfield questions the paradigm’s basic assumptions about the role of aid in economic development, the politics of aid relationships and the generation of perverse incentives, and the routines and procedures of development organizations that diminish the impact of aid. Given these continuing problems, the author claims that the reforms inspired by the Paris Declaration have failed to produce their stated objectives. She concludes with a new approach for donor countries that reduces the utopian scope of aid objectives, shrinks the size of aid agencies, and assigns types of aid to specific donor agencies.>>>

Thomas Carothers

In ”The Elusive Synthesis,” an article in the Journal of Democracy, Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace explores the rise of democracy promotion and its relationship to the older, more established category of development aid. Since the 1980s, democracy and development have become more integrated into aid strategies, reflecting a broader recognition that politics and economics are tightly intertwined. The rise of aid programs emphasizing service building and capacity building is shown by Carothers to be an area where democracy and development advocates began to work together. Governance and state building thereby serves as a bridge between the traditionally exclusive fields of democracy promotion and economic development. .>>>

Dani Rodrik

In “Diagnostics Before Prescription,” Dani Rodrik of Harvard University reviews the evolution of development theory since World War II and critiques the tendency to apply such concepts as general templates to all countries. Rodrik argues that shifting paradigms in development (from free trade to import substitution to the Washington Consensus) emerge as reflections upon the inadequacies of a previous paradigm. In addition, he claims that individual theories cannot explain development successes that have emerged in countries like South Korea or Taiwan. Instead, such concepts should be applied only after diagnosing the specific obstacles to development inherent in a country’s unique socioeconomic context.


Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

In this report, UNDP provides practitioners with a guide for the organization of electoral assistance in countries which may need international support for free and fair elections. It is organized according to the sequence of electoral assistance activities ranging from election assessments, designing and planning electoral assistance, capacity development, and monitoring and evaluation. Overall, it offers an exhaustive discussion of the processes involved in forms of technical assistance such as electoral assistance design and capacity development amidst the electoral cycle. In addition, it also discusses how assistance programs should be managed as well as describes their various funding and procurement mechanisms.


International IDEA

IThis report summarizes presentations at an International IDEA conference on the emergence of violence and conflict related to democratic elections. It illustrates the large amount of research and analysis currently devoted to election-related violence, and describes the work of conference participants ranging from Latin America to southern Africa. A wide range of tools and methodologies are also presented that are designed to monitor and control election-related violence. Finally, the report makes conclusions and recommendations in pursuit of achievable objectives for violence management. These include an increase in awareness of different election experiences and an acknowledgement of the limited successes in defending against election-related violence. >>>

Shane Martin

In this article, Shane Martin of Ireland’s Dublin City University explores the relationship between electoral institutions and the internal organization of legislatures. Based on existing research on the U.S. Congress, Martin hypothesizes the ballot structure of committee systems depends upon how legislators seek votes from constituents. On this basis, he argues that committee strength will be higher when legislators supply incentives for votes through funding for constituents (known as ‘pork’ in the American parlance) but weaker when legislators provide services outside of their institutional function. Martin tests this hypothesis using a statistical analysis of 39 democratic legislatures and broadly confirms his theory. >>>

Joachim Wehner

Prepared for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Joachim Wehner of the London School of Economics and Political Science examines the role of legislatures in performing financial scrutiny over budgetary processes. He argues that effective scrutiny requires legislative engagement in all four stages of the budget process (drafting, approval, implementation, and auditing). However, legislatures in developing countries face obstacles to performing these functions related to a lack of involvement in planning and limits to their formal authority and organizational capacity. Wehner also provides survey evidence of major international donors and development organizations suggesting that legislative strengthening work focusing on financial assistance is not widespread and recommends that DFID provide new opportunities for such projects.



Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn

Writing for the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn examine evolving relations between the Taliban and al-Qaeda.   Efforts to bring a stable political process to Afghanistan have long been maligned by the Taliban’s varied degrees of involvement with al-Qaeda and other like-minded networks.  Still, the authors argue that engaging the Taliban is essential to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  This piece explores how US policy in Afghanistan affects the actions of and relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda.  Moreover, as these two groups remain distinct from each other, it underlines an opportunity to engage the Taliban in rebuking al-Qaeda and its objectives.


Southeast Europe

Othon Anastasakis, Jens Bastian and Max Watson

In a joint publication by South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX) and the Bank of Greece, Othon Anastasakis, Jens Bastian and Max Watson edit four chapters discussing the impact of the global financial crisis on the Balkans. The authors are most interested in how the collapse of the Greek financial system affected other countries in the Balkans.  The varied contexts in which countries in Southeast Europe addressed the crisis – with significant social, economic and political differences across the region – resulted in a wide range of responses.   These chapters consider the lessons learned by those responses and how the resulting economic and political climate of each country might influence their integration into the EU. 



Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

In this guidance note, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) offers 10 principles to follow for implementing lasting development in Haiti.  In developing these guidelines, Norad builds upon the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action, and the last decade of development practice and experience. Their key focus is how the international community can contribute to developing the capacity of Haitian organizations and institutions through close coordination between stakeholders and donors. In addition, Haitian authorities and other stakeholders provide input to contextualize the recommendations, which aim to advise development partners on how to integrate institutional capacity building initiatives into broader development agendas.


The Middle East

Leslie Campbell
In this article, Leslie Campbell of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) discusses a decade of efforts to develop democracy – particularly through strengthening political parties – in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Supported by specific examples of political party and election assistance in Yemen, Morocco, Palestine, and Egypt, the author provides a fuller understanding of the state of democracy in the Arab world.  This understanding is further improved by an overview of common approaches to and tactics for implementing democracy building programs.   She also offers testimonials by Middle Eastern political party leaders that illustrate their experience.



Kabuba Sultan Juma
In the African Journal of Political Science and International Relations, Kakuba Sultan Juma of the International Islamic University in Uganda writes about the role played by political parties in Uganda’s democratic experience.  In the context of Uganda’s weak institutions and authoritarian political contexts, multiparty politics and Uganda’s democratic process are accordingly fragile. The author asserts that the current multiparty system dominated by President Museveni does not allow for genuine opposition politics. Further, the author asserts that strengthening democratic governance with a feeble party system has proven near impossible. If the status of political parties persists, it will continue to preclude effective democracy in Uganda.


Message from the Editor

Note: Back issues of the Governance Information Bulletin are now online.

Below please find SUNY/CID’s Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) that draws attention to technical matters involved in strengthening political institutions and to broader issues of aid strategies, democracy assistance, public sector performance, and to countries and regions where SUNY/CID is working.  Each entry provides a link to a larger piece of research in the title and at the end of the entry.

In this week’s GIB, please find recent reports, summaries publications on development by the UNDP, International IDEA, NORAD, and other organizations and researchers. 

Many thanks for your attention. We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at  
In This Issue
Development and Governance Blogs

The Center for Global Development's Microfinance Open Book Blog is written by David Roodman and covers issues such as microloans and microcredit relevant to an upcoming book on microfinance.

Written by researchers at the Institute for Financial Management and Research, The India Development Blog covers development issues in India and its progress toward alleviating poverty. follows political development in Central Asia and offers critical insights into ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

PBS Wide Angle offers coverage about international relations and political development in countries around the world.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough explores the relationships between donors and recipients in the aid community and global affairs.

The Overseas Development Institute Blog discusses a wide range of current events and issues related to international development.

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