May 24, 2011
  Governance Information Bulletin #26 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid and Governance Strategies

David Ellerman
In "Helping self-help," David Ellerman of the University of California at Riverside explores the paradoxical nature of offering assistance to developing countries. He argues that conventional modes of development assistance do not enable recipient countries to solve their own problems. In their benevolent desire to improve socioeconomic conditions, donor countries tend to impose their own will on recipients and reduce recipient incentives to actually help themselves. Instead, Ellerman argues that donor countries should be more restrained in their assistance to ensure that the capacity of recipients to help themselves is not overridden. He concludes by noting that the relationship between recipients and donors should foster mutual learning whereby developing countries gain experience in solving their own problems.  >>>
Frances Stewart and Graham Brown
In this Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) Working Paper, Frances Stewart and Graham Brown provide new insights for development policy regarding fragile states. They propose a new definition of state fragility that can be operationalized empirically based upon an absence of authority, legitimacy, or capacity for service delivery.  Further, the authors illustrate the causal links between these three factors and a series of other approaches, including human rights, social exclusion, and the poverty reduction initiatives of the Millennium Development Goals. After discussing the policy implications of their definition of state fragility, the authors apply it to case studies of Indonesia, Nepal, Guatemala, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Sudan. >>>
Ben Ramalingam
In this background note, Ben Ramalingam of the Overseas Development Institute offers lessons for impact evaluation, utilization-focused evaluations, and evidence-based policy. These lessons are tailored to respond to the readiness of recipient institutions, the specific context of project implementation, and the need for open and clear communication. Overall, these lessons are important for adapting evaluation to unique and complex situations and maximize opportunities for reflection and learning. Further, they illustrate how impact evaluation can move beyond a purely technical focus and embrace human, organizational, and political factors that have significant effects on the outcomes of development interventions. >>>
Michael Woolcock
In this Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper, Michael Woolcock discusses the importance of methodological pluralism in monitoring and evaluation. Woolcock argues that the use of plausible counterfactuals may not illustrate the full efficacy of development interventions. Instead, alternative methodological tools are needed that capture the effects on recipient institutions and economic structure over time. These instruments can provide policy makers with evidence about the effects of interventions that are not easily quantifiable. In the context of the new movement toward focusing on the results of interventions, policy makers relying solely on a single method may be tempted to focus exclusively on projects whose outcomes are easily reportable.   >>>

Jim Woodhill
In this article from the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Bulletin, Jim Woodhill takes a complexity approach toward institutional development.  Rather than understanding the development of institutions as a problem to be solved by technical assistance, Woodhill shows how institutions must be seen as formal and informal rules that help to define social relationships. In this respect, developing institutional capacity must be seen as a political enterprise that fosters innovation among relevant stakeholders. Further, because social institutions have never been consciously planned and often produce unexpected results, development practitioners cannot expect to intuitively know how institutions should be designed. Instead, Woodhill argues that they ought to interactively reflect on the needs and concerns of stakeholders to assist their efforts at institution building. >>>

Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

Laura Lucas
In this article, Laura Lucas of Boston University examines how legislative drafting processes shape representation in new democracies. These processes vary in their degrees of organization, centralization and hierarchy but have yet to be studied as aspects of legislative organization. Lucas argues that variation in these characteristics is determined by three factors: institutional persistence, the interests of the legislature and its members, and the structure of social organization.  Based on the costs and benefits perceived by constitutional framers and legislators, she shows how drafting processes will favor some constituencies at the expense of others and compromise the quality of democratic representation.  >>>

Emily Beaulieu and Susan D. Hyde
In this paper, Emily Beaulieu of the University of Kentucky and Susan D. Hyde of Yale University contend that the global spread of democratization and democratic norms has produced intended consequences regarding electoral competition.  The authors illustrate why opposition parties might boycott elections despite the presence of international election observers. Although the presence of observers is assumed to promote free and fair elections, the authors show how autocratic incumbents can use their participation to legitimate elections yet still strategically manipulate electoral outcomes through methods that are less observable. Although such elections may be internationally certified, opposition leaders will still boycott manipulated elections given their lack of fair electoral prospects. >>>

Alan Hudson and Anthony Tsekpo
In this synthesis report, Alan Hudson of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Anthony Tsekpo of the Parliamentary Centre discuss the relationships between the field of parliamentary strengthening and the Paris Principles on Aid Effectiveness. They show how the Paris Principles can be used to improve parliamentary strengthening programs through an emphasis on ownership, alignment, harmonization, results, and accountability. In particular, they show how strengthening programs in Cambodia, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda reflect progress in applying these principles to their efforts. Finally, the authors note how any strengthening program is dependent on local politics and must be championed by parliamentary officials.  The report also has links to the individual case studies on the ODI website. >>>

Anna Galluzzi
In this article, Anna Galluzzi of the Italian Senate writes about changing role of parliamentary libraries within their respective institutions. After describing the mission and purpose of parliamentary libraries, Galluzzi argues that the increasing digitization of information and the evolving functions of parliaments poses new challenges to parliamentary libraries. In response, parliamentary libraries are becoming centers of documentation by integrating services with other parliamentary offices and departments and increasingly serve the public as national or research libraries serving specific fields such as political science and law. >>>

Pippa Norris
In this working paper, Pippa Norris of the Harvard Kennedy School explores cultural theories explaining the causes of electoral reform. Unlike rational choice accounts that focus on the outcomes of institutional bargaining amongst competing party elites, Norris’s cultural account seeks to explain why agreement on electoral reform is possible at a particular time. She points to the importance of political culture and citizen dissatisfaction with regime legitimacy in increasing the importance of reform on policy agendas. She empirically tests this proposition with a regression analysis including the timing of electoral reforms and data from the World Values Survey. >>>


Anna Larson
In this synthesis paper, Anna Larson of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) examines the process of democratization in Afghanistan and the prospects for democratic consolidation. She show how Afghans bristle at the terminology of "democracy" as a Western imposition yet simultaneously accept representative procedures such as elections and parliamentary government. In addition, "legitimate" politics is shown to be understood as a process of building consensus rather than competitive party politics. Further, Larson shows how Afghan citizens agree regarding the principle of equality in decision-making and service provision yet view Afghan politics as a means for entrenched political interests to maintain their existing positions at the expense of others. >>>


Marwan Muasher
In “A Decade of Struggling Reform Efforts in Jordan," Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discusses the incomplete political openings limited by the Jordanian government. Although King Hussein II launched a number of reform efforts upon his accession to the throne in 2009, these efforts have been blocked by entrenched political elites and bureaucrats seeking to protect their privileges inherent in the country’s  rentier system. These actors have successfully weakened Hussein’s ambitious attempts at reform, including the 2005 Jordanian National Agenda. Combined with the effects of the existing election law, the lack of reform has left existing democratic institutions relatively weak and without any system of checks and balances. >>>


Samia Satti Osman Mohamed Nour
In this working paper, Samia Satti Osman Mohamed Nour of the United Nations University explores how oil rents may affect the stability and development of Sudan. After reviewing the country’s political and socioeconomic context, Nour describes how oil rents can have multiple positive impacts and can enhance economic development by promoting self sufficiency, increase government revenues, promote rapid economic growth, and increase foreign direct investment and the volume of foreign trade. However, he also discusses the possibility of economic dependence on oil rents and how the prospective succession of South Sudan creates potential conflicts over oil revenue. >>>

Western Balkans

Paula M. Pickering
In this article, Paula M. Pickering the College of William and Mary examines the effects of international assistance on the long-term efficacy of local governments among Western Balkan states. She hypothesizes that states which have experienced higher degrees of international authority over domestic decision-making face greater difficultly in developing democratic institutions for local governments. Through the use of survey and interview methods, she finds that local governance programs supported by the international community were perceived to be more successful if they responded to local conceptions of good governance and engaged domestic experts in program design and implementation. Further, she finds that unless assistance is tied to a broader political settlement, domestic elites were unlikely to be supportive of the recipient institutions. >>>


Scott Fritzen

In this working paper presented at the "Governance, Institutions and Anti-Corruption in Asia" conference at the New Zealand Institute, Scott Fritzen of the National University of Singapore examines the implementation of anti-corruption programs in Vietnam. He argues that anti-corruption programs face the paradox of requiring implementation by the same political actors who are assumed to the source of corruption. Fritzen develops a framework to explore the gulf between policy intentions and outcomes by reviewing grassroots anti-corruption efforts that promote greater transparency and participation in local decision-making. He shows how the program’s design and institutional environment contributed to only weak incentives for local leaders to fully comply with anti-corruption measures. >>>

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, and publications on development by authors from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, United Nations University, Brooks World Poverty Institute, and other organizations and researchers.  

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at  
In This Issue

* Helping self-help: The fundamental conundrum of development assistance

* Fragile States

* Learning How to Learn: Eight Lessons for Impact Evaluations that Make a Difference

* Toward a Plurality of Methods in Project Evaluation

* Capacities for Institutional Innovation: A Complexity Perspective

* Effects of Legislation Drafting Processes on Representation in Transitional Democracies: Theory and Cases

* In the Shadow of Democracy Promotion: Strategic Manipulation, International Observers, and Election Boycotts

* Parliamentary Strengthening and the Paris Principles

* Parliamentary Libraries: An Uncertain Future?

* Cultural Explanations of Electoral Reform: A Policy Cycle Model

* Deconstructing ‘Democracy’ in Afghanistan

* A Decade Of Struggling Reform Efforts in Jordan: The Resilience of the Rentier System

* Assessment of the Impacts of Oil: Opportunities and Challenges for Economic Development in Sudan

* Assessing International Aid for Local Governance in the Western Balkans

* The ‘Misery’ of Implementation: Governance, Institutions and Anti-Corruption in Vietnam

Development and Governance Blogs

Turtle Bay covers all things related to the United Nations. It focuses on diplomatic activity, global peace operations, and important developments for the international community.

The ODI Blog hosts scholars at the Overseas Development Institute and their discussions about learning, complexity, and their applications to development.

The Open Budgets Blog explores how budgetary transparency and accountability can be expanded in aid delivery, development, and governance.

Governance for Development is a World Bank blog that discusses the relevance of state institutions and good governance for improving development outcomes.

The Democracy Digest blog explores the evolution of democracy around the world. Recently, its coverage has focused on the Arab revolutions across the Middle East. 

Pressure Points is written by Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow at the Council at Foreign Relations, and discusses world events and their relationship to U.S. foreign policy.

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