August 29, 2011
  Governance Information Bulletin #30 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid and Governance Strategies

Harry Jones
In this Overseas Development Institute working paper, Harry Jones discusses how policy implementation must cope with the complexity of problems faced by development practitioners. Solving for complexity requires that policy actors coordinate their capacities while maintaining decentralized action and self-organization. Decentralized coordination enables actors to approach implementation as an evolutionary learning process. At the same time, coping with complexity requires that actors share and synthesize their changing perspectives to form a shared understanding of the problem. Jones concludes by arguing that complexity can no longer be ignored in development work and must be approached using innovative tools and methods that privilege learning in the face of uncertainty.


Dustin Tingley
In this article for The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Dustin Tingley examines the relationship between the domestic politics of donor governments and their support for foreign aid. The author uses a time-series cross-sectional data set to analyze the influence of changes in political and economic variables among the domestic politics of donors. Tingley finds that domestic political variables, such as the rise of conservative governments, are likely to reduce aid efforts for low-income countries and multilateral organizations. This weakens arguments emphasizing the importance of international strategic interests on donor aid policy while also suggesting that domestic politics can be a significant source of aid volatility.

Casey Dunning, Alan Gelb, Owen McCarthy and Sarah Jane Staats
In this report written on behalf of the Center for Global Development, the authors explore the ongoing review of the selection process and development indicators of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The review process aims to harmonize MCC processes and indicators with the Obama Administration’s recent presidential policy directive on global development. The authors recommend that the review process should maintain the current structure of the indicator system while emphasizing the importance of government capacity and political participation in the "ruling justly" category. They also suggest that more indicators should be added to the "investing in people" category to maintain parity with other categories. Further, they argue that the MCC should be wary of income bias among indicator scores and remain transparent in discussing how indicator scores are compiled.

Lindsey Peterson
In this working paper, Lindsey Peterson of The Ohio State University tests two competing hypotheses about which countries receive democracy assistance from the United States. Conventional wisdom states that such assistance is provided on the basis of need to countries struggling in their transitions to democracy. In this model, the United States functions as a global philanthropist promoting democracy as a public good. However, realists have countered by arguing that states are likely to provide foreign aid only to cement political or economic alliances. Democracy assistance is simply one policy tool among others to fulfill national interests. Peterson evaluates these hypotheses by geographically comparing aid flows during different presidential terms and finds that some support for both hypotheses, but also suggests that democracy aid is provided to states that still have potential to improve their governance.


Michael Barnett
In this working paper for the European University Institute, Michael Barnett reviews recent research on peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction and then offers two claims about future peacebuilding efforts. First, he notes that while peacebuilders have been fairly successful at ending conflicts and producing stability, their support for the development of liberal states has been less effective. Second, since peacebuilders’ efforts in supporting state building will always be limited, Barnett suggests that they should be content with support institutions that simply improve governance even if such forms of governance are not consistent with the international community’s preferences. Finally, the author claims that these recommendations are not just applicable to post-war interventions, but also to the broader international agenda of fixing states.


Elections, Parties, and Parliaments

Joel D. Barkan
In the introductory chapter of his anthology Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies, Joel D. Barkan explores the newfound significance of many African legislatures.  He argues that legislatures are essential to African democracies because they provide vertical accountability as representatives of the populace and horizontal accountability as watchdogs of the executive, judiciary, military, and other organizations.  He describes the overlooked importance of legislatures to African democracies and defines the four core functions of modern legislatures (“represent”, “legislate”, “oversight” and “constituency service”).  Finally, he contextualizes these legislatures with some historical background and introduces the methods and focus countries of the anthology.


Thad Dunning
In this article for a special issue of the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Professor Thad Dunning addresses the seemingly separate topics of violence and voting.  He argues that armed conflict and electoral politics may be strategic substitutes or complements where actors can use one to either avoid or bolster the other. He also emphasizes that while studies of civil wars usually focus how violence affects social and political cleavages, preexisting cleavages play a large part in how the violence plays out.  Dunning does not argue that fighting is just a continuation of politics, but he does make a case that the two interact in very important ways.


Judith Kelley
In this article for the Journal of Democracy, Professor Judith Kelley of Duke University analyzes the effects of election monitoring.  She uses case studies and the Data on International Election Monitoring (DIEM) Project to identify and discuss prevailing patterns among election monitors.  Her main concerns are the biases of election observers and the potential for election observers to endorse flawed elections to limit potential violence, thereby legitimizing undemocratic practices.  Ultimately she argues that we need to understand the side-effects of election monitoring and suggests a need to ensure that their efforts of monitors support democratic objectives.


Daniel Corstange
In this paper, which was prepared for the Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association in 2010, Professor Daniel Corstange uses a list experiment in Lebanon to examine vote buying.  He compares places where multiple parties competed to buy votes to places with monopsony, where only a single party sought the votes of constituents. He found vote buying to be pervasive with 26 percent of his respondents admitting to selling their votes, while his list experiment technique revealed that 55 percent had actually done so. Furthermore, he discovered that while both competitive and monopsonistic parties go for lower priced sellers, monopsonistic buyers are able to be more discriminating.



Noah Coburn
In this United States Institute of Peace Special Report, Noah Coburn of Skidmore College discusses how the realities of dispute resolution in Afghanistan confound traditional expectations. Rather than emphasize formal state institutions, Coburn argues that dispute resolution often occurs through a combination of formal and informal institutional mechanisms that blend court-based and customary legal traditions. Further, the combination of formal and informal institutions differs based on regional and local contexts. Finally, the author argues that continued conflict and instability will prevent the development of regular institutions of dispute resolution.  



Nolan R. Shaw
In this law journal article, Nolan R. Shaw reviews the implementation of China’s 2007 Open Government Information Regulation.  This law requires government institutions to disseminate information on their own initiative and to make timely disclosures of information in response to requests from citizens and CSOs.  Shaw calls the act a beneficial step toward increased transparency.  He argues that many government offices do seem to be making a positive effort to comply with the new regulation, but that there is still room for improvement as the courts have yet to uphold the law in cases where the government does not want to reveal certain information.



Christopher Stone
In this paper, Professor Christopher Stone addresses the task of revamping the Haitian justice sector. He explains that prior to the devastating earthquake of January 2010 the justice sector in Haiti was showing improvements in police accountability, judicial training, and prison safety.  Unfortunately, the earthquake undid this progress as police returned to rough justice, prisoners escaped through the rubble, and scrambling government institutions commandeered the new magisterial school. But Stone sees signs of hope in the massive foreign aid being sent to restructure Haiti. Therefore he outlines ways of improving Haiti’s justice sector without repeating past mistakes, seeing this as an opportunity to abandon archaic and ineffective practices while building on the pre-earthquake advancements.



The Balkans

Gülnur Aybet
In this article for Problems of Post-Communism, Gülnur Aybet of the University of Kent discusses how the process of conditionality supported defense reform and state building in Bosnia. While conditionally typically achieves compliance through consensus and negotiation among national elites, the persistent divisions among Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs in Bosnia made such a process impossible. Instead, Aybet shows how Bosnian participation in NATO training seminars and a more favorable international environment following the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic created Bosnian interest in adhering to the NATO Partnership for Peace.



Monica Beuran, Gaël Raballand, Julio Revilla

In this paper, Monica Beuran, Gaël Raballand and Julio Revilla examine the effectiveness of international aid in Zambia and suggest areas of improvement.  The authors show how Zambia’s decline from a middle-income country to a low-income country is partly due to aid flows. They argue that international aid decreases incentive for effective tax systems, makes governments accountable to donors rather than citizens, and places undue emphasis on short-term improvements due to the brief assignments of aid employees. Finally, the authors propose a revised approach to aid in order to avoid crippling aid-dependencies in countries like Zambia. >>>

Message from the Editor

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

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 30 which 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 issue, please find recent reports, summaries, and publications on development by development professionals from ODI, CGD, USIP, and other organizations and researchers. In addition, all previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at  

In This Issue

* Taking responsibility for complexity: How implementation can achieve results in the face of complex problems

* Donors and domestic politics: Political influences on foreign aid effort

* Fine-Tuning the MCC Selection Process and Indicators

* Who Gets USAID Democracy Assistance? Thinking About Foreign Aid in a Global Society

* State Fragility, The Peacebuilder’s Contract, and the Search for the Least Bad State

* African Legislatures and the ‘Third Wave’ of Democratization

* Fighting and Voting: Violent Conflict and Electoral Politics

* Election Observers and Their Biases

* Vote Buying under Competition and Monopsony: Evidence from a List Experiment in Lebanon

* The Politics of Dispute Resolution and Continued Instability in Afghanistan

* Implementation of China’s 2007 Open Government Information Regulation

* A New Era for Justice Sector Reform in Haiti

* NATO Conditionality in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Defense Reform and State-Building

* Improving Aid Effectiveness in Aid-Dependent Countries: Lessons from Zambia

Development and Governance Blogs

The Center for Global Development’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Blog discusses ongoing efforts to reform U.S. development. Its recent posts include coverage of competing foreign aid authorization bills in the U.S. House and Senate as well as the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s Peer Review of the United States.

The International Budget Partnership’s Open Budgets Blog explores how budget transparency contributes to better governance. It recently covered the launch of the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency and Kenya’s draft County Governments Financial Management Bill.

The National Endowment for Democracy’s Democracy Digest explores contemporary struggles for democracy across the globe.  These include the provision of democracy assistance to the revolutionary movement in Egypt and the efforts of dissidents in Russia.      

The World Bank’s End Poverty in South Asia blog promotes dialogue about development in South Asia. Its recent posts have covered the legacy of 2007’s Cyclone Sidr and cost-effective project implementation by beneficiary communities.

The International Monetary Fund’s Public Financial Management Blog reports on new developments in public accounting, including Paul Collier’s recent proposal for certifying public finance systems among recipient states and the importance of cash management by sovereign states.

Written by Duncan Green, Oxfam’s From Poverty to Power discusses innovative efforts at poverty reduction, including advocacy and service delivery in Russia and the work of NGOs in Indonesian cities

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