December 2, 2014
  Governance Information Bulletin 2014:2 Subscribe | Unsubscribe


Rachel M. Gisselquist and Danielle Resnick (Public Administration and Development, August 2014, Forthcoming)

More than a decade after becoming a buzzword on the development agenda, governance remains a high priority for the international donor community. This article provides an introduction and overview of key findings from the UNU-WIDER symposium on Aiding Government Effectiveness in Developing Countries. This symposium moves beyond traditional debates about whether aid supports or undermines good governance in the aggregate to instead focus on donor interventions in two interrelated governance domains. The first domain examines donor efforts to augment government effectiveness at providing key services to citizens by national and local authorities. Three studies in the collection therefore focus on policing, regulation, and civic education. The second addresses the underlying administrative and financial institutions and processes that facilitate service delivery. Relevant papers in this regard address decentralization, civil service reform, and taxation. In assessing what we know about what works? and what could work? across these core areas of governance, the contributions shed new light on several key themes, including the dilemma of reconciling governance with ownership, the importance of identifying exactly how context and sequencing matters, and the weaknesses in existing donor evaluation methods.

Susan D. Hyde and Emily Lamb

Since the early 1990s, efforts to promote democracy throughout the world have proliferated, yet as many scholars and policy-makers lament, the effects of these democracy promotion programs are poorly understood. In this paper we introduce a randomized field experiment intended to evaluate one democracy promotion program undertaken by an international non-governmental organization (INGO) in Cambodia. We show that citizen exposure to multi-party town hall meetings has positive effects on citizen knowledge about politics, attitudes towards democracy, and reported political behavior, but has null effects on citizen confidence in the political process. In addition, several months after the intervention, qualitative evidence suggests that problem issues in treatment villages are more likely to be addressed than in control villages.

Fragile States

Rachel M. Gisselquist (The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November 2014, Forthcoming)

Why and how some states transition successfully from fragile to more robust and some do not are both topical and age-old questions. This volume addresses these questions with particular attention to the role of foreign aid, offering new traction on theory development on state-building through the use of comparative analysis. Contributions cover selected major cases of aid-supported state-building from the end of the Second World War to the present. Collectively, they highlight both the potential for external assistance to stimulate change and to alter incentives toward institution-building in fragile states and the ultimately decisive influence of domestic institutional legacies and political dynamics. This article frames the issues addressed in this volume and draws out key findings relevant to current public debates, including the limits to aid, the influence of historical state strength, institutional change through colonial and post-colonial interventions, and political economy incentives to maintain state weakness.

Governance (27.4)

The October 2014 issue of Governance (27.4) will feature a series of articles on external actors, state-building, and service provision in areas of limited statehood. All of the articles are now available online.

Thomas Risse of Freie Universitt Berlin provides an overview of the special issue: While virtually all polities enjoy uncontested international legal sovereignty, there are wide variations in domestic sovereignty, i.e., the monopoly over the means of violence and/or the ability of the state to make and implement policies. Most states lack domestic sovereignty and exhibit areas of limited statehood, at least in some parts of the territory or with regard to some policy-areas. Areas of limited statehood are not, however, ungoverned or ungovernable spaces where anarchy and chaos prevail, as this special issue demonstrates. The provision of collective goods and services is possible even under extremely adverse conditions of fragile or failed statehood.

This special issue explores the conditions under which external efforts at state-building and service provision by state and non-state actors can achieve their goals. We argue that three factors determine success: legitimacy, task complexity, and institutionalization including the provision of adequate resources. Without legitimacy, external efforts at state-building or service provision will inevitably fail. If the external actors are considered legitimate, simple tasks can be accomplished even under the most adverse conditions, while complex tasks require strong institutionalization.

Articles focus on the extent to which external actors enhance the capacity of authority structures in weak states through trusteeships, governance delegation agreements, and anti-corruption efforts. We also investigate the contribution of external actors to the delivery of public goods such as public security, health, education, food, and basic infrastructure. The articles investigates a variety of external actors, both state and non-state foreign governments, international organizations, transnational public-private partnerships, and multinational corporations.

Jason Sorens (APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper)

Federalism can be a conflict-prevention mechanism, but some political scientists and economists have also endorsed certain features of the system as being likely to establish proper market incentives for economic growth. Most developing countries have ignored economists' recommendations for proper design of federal and decentralized institutions, particularly with respect to hardening of the budget constraint and the enforcement of an open, common market. The first logic of perverse fiscal federalism is secession deterrence: for many governments, preventing ethnic conflict seems to require fiscally deleterious institutions. In ethnoregionally diverse federations such as India, South Africa, and Indonesia, the common market is often not enforced, and tax decentralization falls far short of the recommendations of orthodox economists and international lending institutions. The second logic of perverse fiscal federalism is found in developing federations without ethnonational minorities: in many of these states, personalist electoral institutions preserve excessive expenditure decentralization with a soft budget constraint. Examples in this category have included Brazil and Argentina. While ethnic diversity has helped to preserve or to create relatively robust forms of fiscal federalism in Western democracies such as Switzerland, Canada, and Spain, it has had the contrary effect in developing countries. The political logics of federalism in the developing world will likely continue to stymie efforts to reform federal institutions along orthodox lines.

Governance, Transparency, and Accountability

Stephen Kosack and Archon Fung (Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 17, pp. 65-87, 2014)

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the potential of transparency the provision of information to the public to improve governance in both developed and developing societies. In this article, we characterize and assess the evolution of transparency from an end in itself to a tool for resolving increasingly practical concerns of governance and government performance. After delineating four distinct varieties of transparency, we focus on the type that has received the most rigorous empirical scrutiny from social scientists so-called transparency and accountability (T/A) interventions intended to improve the quality of public services and governance in developing countries. T/A interventions have yielded mixed results: some are highly successful; others appear to have little impact. We develop a rubric of five ideal-typical worlds facing transparency that helps to account for this variation in outcomes. Reform based on transparency can face obstacles of collective action, political resistance, and long implementation chains. T/A interventions are more likely to succeed in contextual worlds with fewer of these obstacles. We find that 16 experimental evaluations of T/A interventions are largely consistent with the theoretical predictions of our five-worlds rubric.

OECD (DAC Guidelines and Reference Series)

This study, conducted by the DAC Network on Governance, explores innovative ways to improve support to accountability in developing countries while doing no harm and avoiding undermining inherently political processes. This study highlights the need for a more holistic, comprehensive approach to accountability support and more deference to partners as they evolve their systems and as external actors facilitate relevant processes. It proposes a system-based approach where all accountability actors take part in the countrys own development script. Findings were based on considering how accountability functions in processes such as service delivery in sectors and in public financial management. Grounded in evidence from in-depth case studies in Mali, Mozambique, Peru and Uganda, and resulting from consultations with leading experts in the field, these strategic orientations and principles constitute an enlightening set of findings for policy makers and programme managers, donors and partners from developing country accountability institutions who work every day to strengthen democratic governance.

Diane de Gramont (Carnegie Endowment for Peace 2014)

Domestic reformers and external donors have invested enormous energy and resources into improving governance in developing countries since the 1990s. Yet there is still remarkably little understanding of how governance progress actually occurs in these contexts. Reform strategies that work well in some places often prove disappointing elsewhere. A close examination of governance successes in the developing world indicates that effective advocacy must move beyond a search for single-focus magic bullet solutions toward an integrated approach that recognizes multiple interrelated drivers of governance change. Key issues include:

  • Reform prospects rely on the interactions among three governance pillars: political commitment, bureaucratic capacity, and state-society relations. Multiple factors shape each of these pillars and they can emerge in very different forms. It is nevertheless possible to identify common trends and emerging lessons.
  • Initial donor efforts to transplant Western institutions and best practices into developing countries largely failed. Governance advocates have subsequently turned to other solutions, such as finding individual political champions, encouraging citizen demand for good governance, establishing technocratic enclaves within bureaucracies, and devising flexible context-specific reform strategies.
  • The success of each of these approaches relies on supporting conditions. Political champions, for example, usually fall short without effective allies in government and civil society. Enclaves of bureaucratic excellence similarly require political support to maintain their independence.



Fanni Mandak and Peter Smuk (In: Doktori muhelytanulmnyok 2013. (ed.: Gabor Kecskes), Gyor, Szchenyi Istvn University.)

This paper examines legitimate political opposition in parliamentary systems, describing and analyzing its rights, role and functions.

Gregoire Webber ([2014] Public Law 100-111)

This essay reviews John Griffith's accounts of the constitution, specifically in relation to the relationship between government and the Westminster Parliament. Interrogating Griffith's claim that there "can be no persistent, fundamental or constitutional conflict" between the government and the House of Commons, it surveys the practices of conflict management observed by government and opposition.

Marian Sawer, Sonia Palmieri and Lenita Freidenvall

Since the 1990s there has been a proliferation of specialised parliamentary bodies with a remit to promote gender equality and these have increasingly been viewed as having a significant role to play in gender mainstreaming. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has strongly encouraged this development and since 2006 has regularly surveyed parliaments and collated data relating to such bodies. By February 2013 the IPU had data on some 100 parliamentary bodies dealing with gender equality, focusing on standing committees and womens caucuses. Case studies of other types of body, such as gender-focused all-party parliamentary groups were also beginning to emerge.

Our aim in this paper is threefold: to outline the theoretical and empirical arguments for paying more attention to such parliamentary institution building; to provide a global overview and comparison of such bodies; and to provide case studies of gender mainstreaming in the Swedish and European Parliaments. The paper will begin with the case for parliamentary institution building. It will then examine existing parliamentary bodies specialising in gender equality in terms of their structure, membership, mandate, working methods, and internal and external relationships. The in-depth case studies will analyse and compare the roles of the Committee on Womens Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament and the Speakers Reference Group for Gender Equality Issues in the Swedish Parliament.

Daniel L. Hicks, Joan Hamory Hicks, and Beatriz A. Maldonado

This paper investigates whether the gender composition of national legislatures in donor countries impacts the level, composition, and pattern of foreign aid. We provide causal evidence that the election of female legislators leads countries to increase aid both in total and as a percentage of GDP. Our estimates suggest that, consistent with the existing evidence for domestic expenditures, the empowerment of women in national legislatures leads to higher levels of aid for specific projects such as education and health. These increased flows occur predominately through bilateral aid and reflect a redistribution of aid towards developing countries and for humanitarian purposes in particular.

Nills Ringe and Jennifer Nicoll Victor

Legislative member organizations (LMOs) have been shown to provide bridging, cross-cutting ties for legislators across committees and parties (Ringe and Victor 2013). Evidence about the utility of LMOs across national legislatures remains scarce. In this paper, we investigate the usage of LMOs in three parliaments: the Estonian Riigikogu, the Israeli Knesset, and the European Parliament. We use membership data from the LMOs in these parliaments to investigate whether they provide bridging ties in all the institutions under investigation. Our analyses support our expectations, but do not provide a evidence of a causal relationship; therefore, we find further support about the role that LMOs play in national legislatures but need further research to investigate the intended purpose of the groups.

Elections and Political Parties

Mihail Chiru and Zsolt Enyedi (Journal of Legislative Studies, 2015, Forthcoming)

MPs are privileged agents. They can choose whom to regard as their principal: the entire nation, a particular electoral district or a political party. Focusing on two countries with mixed electoral systems, Romania and Hungary, the article documents the dominance of the electoral logic of role-formation over the constraints of legislative organization and the influence of socialization. The focus of representation is found to be only modestly influenced by the degree of the embeddedness of MPs in political structures and hierarchies. The association of the seat with a particular territorial unit, on the other hand, has a robust effect even when this association originates in the political environment and not in formal rules. Finally, the psychological effect of losing a Single Member District is also found to influence how MPs perceives their representative role.


The Will, Space, Capacity Toolkit provides a structured approach for examining what drives political party behavior:

  • Political space: the environment in which political parties operate and how they interact with it;
  • Political will: the incentives that influence political parties and the individual actors within them; and
  • Capacity: the skills and resources that parties need to compete in elections, propose policies and contribute to governance.

This approach should provide new insights, strengthening efforts to promote more representative political parties. The Toolkit includes a Political Party Programming Guide and a Context Analysis Tool. Together, they incorporate accumulated expertise in party assistance, as well as the latest innovations in development aid.


Ben Ramalingam, Miguel Laric and John Primrose (ODI (2014))

The tools of complex systems research, which emerged from scientific research,are already used and valued by the private and public sectors to better analyse and navigate a range of wicked problems across many disciplines. International development is starting to catch on, with a number of initiatives and projects in this area. Many development partner tools and business processes deal with static, simple or linear problems. There is considerable demand for new methods and principles that can help development partners better navigate the complex, dynamic realities they face on a day-to-day basis. This project looked at the appetite for these new methods in DFID and tested a number of tools and principles in four small-scale pilots: looking at system dynamics in trade; adaptive management and complexity-informed theories of change in private sector development; network analysis in girls empowerment; and systems thinking in programme management.

Political Economy Analysis

David Booth and Sue Unsworth (ODI Discussion Paper (September 2014))

This paper is a contribution to ongoing debate about the need for donor agencies to think and work more politically. It presents seven cases of aid-funded interventions that show how donors have been able to facilitate developmental change despite the odds. The central message is that donor staff were successful because they adopted politically smart, locally led approaches, adapting the way they worked in order to support iterative problem-solving and brokering of interests by politically astute local actors. The seven cases addressed different types of problems, in different contexts. All the interventions resulted in some tangible, short- or medium-term benefits for poor people. In all cases, there is evidence to suggest that the approach adopted was the critical factor in achieving these results. The interventions were also demonstrably more effective than comparable efforts to address similar problems in similar circumstances. The cases fall into three broad groups: 1. A rural livelihoods programme in western Odisha, India; two cases of economic reform in the Philippines; and a programme supporting the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants in DRC. These all addressed relatively well-defined problems and adopted iterative, politically smart approaches to finding and implementing specific solutions to them. 2. The FLEGT Action Plan to reduce illegal logging addressed a problem that was large-scale, complex and initially only broadly defined. The team used politically astute, iterative approaches to identify and define an effective strategy, and subsequently to explore and negotiate more specific solutions including locally led voluntary partnership agreements with timber-producing countries. 3. Programmes in Burma and Nepal were initiated in very challenging, volatile political environments where donors used locally led, iterative approaches to identify effective entry points, and to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. The programmes were designed to find ways of engaging with the politics, as the key to progress in the medium term, but did so by facilitating local actors to organise around and pursue issues of salience to them.

Fritz, Verena; Levy, Brian; Ort, Rachel

Problem-driven political economy analysis holds considerable promise to help development practitioners identify what policies and strategies are most likely to succeed in addressing difficult and persistent development challenges. This volume is the result of a systematic effort to take stock of what the World Bank has learned from efforts to mainstream this approach. The eight cases presented here are good practice examples that illustrate and reflect on what the Bank has been able to achieve in this area so far. Each chapter begins with a discussion of the specific development challenge that prompted and drove the analysis. These challenges include a mining resource boom in Mongolia, a subsidy reform in Morocco, an electricity sector reform in the Dominican Republic, an electricity and telecommunications reform in Zambia, the development of inclusive commercial agriculture in Ghana, an infrastructure provision at subnational levels in Sierra Leone, a local infrastructure provision in Papua New Guinea, and a local roads and health provision in the Philippines. Summarizing the key findings and feasible policy recommendations proposed by the analysis, each chapter provides examples of how donors can adapt to existing political economy conditions or expand the space for reform in the countries and sectors where they work. Recommendations range from designing politically responsive policy to enhancing the information available to local actors to fostering multi-stakeholder engagement. Finally, each chapter reflects on the uptake and impact of the problem-driven analysis on Bank operations and policy dialogue. Given these examples, it is possible to conclude that a stronger focus on how politics and economics intersect to shape particular development issues can change the way donors design and implement projects.

David Hudson and Adrian Leftwich

This paper argues that existing political economy approaches lack the analytical tools needed to grasp the inner politics of development. Political economy has come to be seen narrowly as the economics of politics the way incentives shape behavior. Much recent political economy work therefore misses what is distinctively political about politics power, interests, agency, ideas, the subtleties of building and sustaining coalitions, and the role of contingency. This paper aims to give policy makers and practitioners more precise conceptual tools to help them interpret the inner, micro, politics of the contexts in which they work. It argues in particular for more focus on recognising and working with the different forms of power, on understanding how and where interests develop, and on the role of ideas.

Results Based Programming

Alan Gelb and Nabil Hasmi (Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 374)

The World Banks new Program for Results (PforR) instrument is only the third instrument approved by its Board and the first to directly link disbursements to results. Designed to support programs of service delivery, the program is still in its early stages. This paper provides an overview of the approach and some of the debates on the design of the instrument, including the approaches to safeguards and to results, which encompass the strengthening of systems of service delivery as well as the actual delivery of services. It develops a classification of Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLIs) that can be used to situate the results-based instruments in the context of investment loans (IL) and development policy loans (DPLs) and applies this to the first four PforR operations. Some are shown to approach other results-based formulations (for example COD Aid) while others have a larger overlap with DPLs. The paper notes a number of features of the operations, including the still-modest use of system performance indicators, as opposed to action-based indicators, to link disbursements to systems reform, and the implications for the PforR approach. While it is far too early to judge the success of PforR and its various design features, the paper considers some of the implications, including the meaning of success for a results-based operation.

Measurement & Evaluation

Rachel M. Gisselquist and Miguel Nino-Zarazua (UNU-WIDER Working Paper 2013/077, August 2013.)

In recent years, randomized controlled trials have become increasingly popular in the social sciences. In development economics in particular, their use has attracted considerable debate in relation to the identification of 'what works' in development policy. This paper focuses on a core topic in development policy: governance. It aims to address two key questions: (1) 'what have the main contributions of randomized controlled trials been to the study of governance?' and (2) 'what could be the contributions, and relatedly the limits of such methods?'. To address these questions, a systematic review of experimental and quasi-experimental methods to study government performance was conducted. It identified 139 relevant papers grouped into three major types of policy interventions that aim to: (1) improve supply-side capabilities of governments; (2) change individual behaviour through various devices, notably incentives, and (3) improve informational asymmetries. We find that randomized controlled trials can be useful in studying the effects of some policy interventions in the governance area, but they are limited in significant ways: they are ill-equipped to study broader governance issues associated with macro-structural shifts, national level variation in institutions and political culture, and leadership. Randomized controlled trials are best for studying targeted interventions, particularly in areas of public goods provision, voting behaviour, and specific measures to address corruption and improve accountability; however, they can provide little traction on whether the intervention is transferable and 'could work' (and why) in other contexts, and in the longer run.

Harry Blair and Michael Calavan (APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper)

In recent years, the randomized control trial (RCT) has emerged as the preferred gold standard for project evaluation in the international development field, initially in such sectors as public health, education and economic growth but now in democratization assistance as well. But in addition to being time-consuming and expensive, RCT studies are often impossible for more basic reasons such as lack of a baseline survey. Many methodologies have been developed as second best approaches, but they also tend to be overly complex and cumbersome to implement. A simpler approach is the Rapid Governance Assessment (RGA), which combines quantitative and qualitative methods. In this paper, we show how an RGA was crafted and employed to evaluate a local governance assistance project in Bangladesh.

Rachel M. Gisselquist (UNU-WIDER Working Paper 2013/068, July 2013)

Recent years have seen a proliferation of 'composite indicators' or 'indexes' of governance. Such measures can be useful tools for analysing governance, making public policy, building scientific knowledge, and even influencing ruling elites, but some are better tools than others and some are better suited to certain purposes than others. This paper provides a framework of ten questions to help users and producers of governance indexes to evaluate them and consider key components of index design. In reviewing these ten questions -- only six of which, it argues, are critical -- the paper offers examples from some of the best known measures of governance and related topics. It advances two broad arguments: First, more attention should be paid to the fundamentals of social science methodology, i.e., questions about concept formation, content validity, reliability, replicability, robustness, and the relevance of particular measures to underlying research questions. Second, less attention should be paid to some other issues commonly highlighted in the literature on governance measurement, i.e., questions about descriptive complexity, theoretical fit, the precision of estimates, and correct weighting. The paper builds upon a thorough review of the literature and the author's three years of research in practice as co-author of a well-known governance index.

Gill Westhorp (ODI (2014))

Realist impact evaluation draws on the realism school of philosophy. Realist approaches to evaluation assume that nothing works everywhere or for everyone: context really does make a difference to programme outcomes. This introduction aims to explain realist impact evaluation for those unfamiliar with its principles. It describes five key ideas which frame realism and their implications for impact evaluation. It explains when a realist impact evaluation may be most appropriate and outlines how to design and conduct an impact evaluation based on a realist approach. The paper will be useful for evaluators and commissioners of evaluations to decide whether a realist approach is appropriate or feasible for evaluating a particular programme or policy; as well as for anyone interested in understanding a realist approach to impact evaluation.

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 14:2 which highlights recent articles of interest for development practitioners and scholars in the area of democracy and governance. Areas of attention include: (1) development and international foreign aid, including strategies of democracy and governance assistance; (2) development and political institutions including legislative development; local governance and devolution; and public sector performance improvement and (3) program design, measurement and evaluation.

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

* Aiding Government Effectiveness in Developing Countries

* The Micro-Level Consequences of Democracy Promotion: A Field Experiment in Rural Cambodia

* Aid and Institution-Building in Fragile States: What Do We Know? What Can Comparative Analysis Add?

* Special issue: External Actors, State-Building, and Service Provision in Areas of Limited Statehood

* The Two Logics of Perverse Fiscal Federalism in the Developing World

* Does Transparency Improve Governance?

* Accountability and Democratic Governance: Orientations and Principles For Development

* Beyond Magic Bullets in Governance Reform

* Rights and Functions of Opposition A Comparative Analysis

* Parliament and the Management of Conflict

* Playing Their Part? Parliamentary Institutions and Gender Mainstreaming

* Women as Policy Makers and Donors: Female Legislators and Foreign Aid


* Legislative Member Organizations in a Comparative Perspective: Exploring the Bridging Nature of LMO Ties in Three Parliaments

* Choosing Your Own Boss: Variations of Representation Foci in Mixed Electoral Systems

* NDI Toolkit For Party Assistance NDI 2014

* From best practice to best fit: understanding and navigating wicked problems in international development

* Politically Smart, Locally Led Development

* Problem-Driven Political Economy Analysis: The World Bank's Experience

* Research Paper 25 - From Political Economy to Political Analysis Development Leadership Program

* The Anatomy of Program-for-Results: An Approach to Results-Based Aid

* What Can Experiments Tell Us About How to Improve Governance?

* Finding a Middle Path between Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis in Democracy Program Evaluations: Rapid Governance Assessment in Bangladesh

* Evaluating Governance Indexes: Critical and Less Critical Questions

* Realist Impact Evaluation: An Introduction

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