July 23, 2015
  Governance Information Bulletin 2015:3 Subscribe | Unsubscribe


Fragile States

David E. Guinn & Jeffrey D. Straussman (Public Administration Review, Vol. xx, Iss. xx, pp. xx–xx. © 2015)

Both the donor community and scholars have created a cottage industry studying “fragile” states. International nongovernmental organizations that have developed indexes measuring corruption or governance have been unkind to Afghanistan. One index suggests a different and more optimistic story. The International Budget Partnership measures transparency every two years with its Open Budget Index. Afghanistan demonstrated dramatic improvement on this index between 2008 and 2012. The authors use the improvement in Afghanistan’s transparency score as an entry point to explore how donors try to intervene and promote transparency as part of broader efforts in public financial management development and how legislative strengthening has also contributed to budget reform. The analysis offers a modest corrective to the overly pessimistic assessments of fragile states by showing that a fragile state can improve its budgetary transparency and enhance governance by strengthening the legislature’s involvement in the budget process.


(IPU 2015)

This Interparliamentary Union publication looks at how women's representation in parliament has fared in the 20 years since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action on women's empowerment as well as in the year between 2014 and 2015. Although the news that the percentage of women MPs has nearly doubled since 1995 seems encouraging, the lack of significant progress in 2014 questions whether quotas have reached the peak of their impact.

Jennifer L. Lawless(Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 18, pp. 349-366, 2015)

For decades, scholars have uncovered evidence that male and female legislators' priorities and preferences differ and that women's inclusion brings to elite-level politics a more cooperative leadership style. They also point to the symbolic benefits associated with more diversity among candidates and office holders. Although these effects are not uniform, there is no question among political scientists that women's presence in US political institutions bears directly on issues of substantive and symbolic representation. Accordingly, it is important to understand why we have so few women in politics, whether they are willing to run for office, what happens when they do, and the extent to which their presence systematically affects the legislative process. I cover each of these topics in this review, emphasizing the latest and most interesting research that speaks to these questions.

Francesco Burchi and Luis A. Camacho (Briefing Paper 16/2014, German Development Institute (DIE))

Reducing gender gaps in education, employment and political decision making, among other dimensions, has long been an important development objective. Are countries that have adopted democratic political institutions more successful at reducing the gender gap in education? And can higher levels of political representation of women contribute to achieving this objective? Democracy advances the cause of women’s education in the absolute, although there is no conclusive evidence on whether it improves women’s situation relative to men’s. When it comes to political representation, the evidence is clear: larger numbers of women in politics and elected office improve overall educational outcomes and reduce the gender gap in education.

Pilar Domingo; Rebecca Holmes; Tam O'Neil; Nicola Jones; Kate Bird; Anna Larson; Elizabeth Presler-Marshall and Craig Valters (ODI 2015)

The report looks at whether women’s capabilities and actions in different spheres lead them to have more presence and influence within private and public decision-making. Based on a review of over 400 sources, the report is organised around thematic chapters on women's: political participation, including in peace processes, constitutional reform, political parties and through quotas; social activism, through social mobilisation and social accountability processes; and economic empowerment, through access to financial and productive assets and the labour market. A large body of research clearly shows that a woman’s ownership of assets and employment can increase her power within the household, but little is known about how this effects her public power. While increases in the number of women in leadership positions is itself a measure of gender equality, there is no automatic link between increases in the power of individual women and more equitable political settlements or improved outcomes for women more broadly. However, the evidence is unequivocal that women women’s collective action through social movements, political coalitions and economic associations has driven legal, policy and social norm change in many countries. What is less understood is how different political settlements shape women's power and influence, and how women in public navigate and reshape gendered institutions, relationships and networks.

Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Karalashvili,Nona; Kraay,Aart C.; Murrell,Peter (World Bank 2015)

This paper develops a structural approach for modeling how respondents answer survey questions and uses it to estimate the proportion of respondents who are reticent in answering corruption questions, as well as the extent to which reticent behavior biases down conventional estimates of corruption.


Policy Development

(AIDDATA, 2015)

The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change report examines the influence of over 100 external assessments of government performance -- from cross-country benchmarking exercises and watchlists to country-specific diagnostics and conditional aid programs -- on the policymaking process of low and middle income countries. Participants in the survey identified the specific sources of external analysis and advice that were used by key government decision-makers between 2004 and 2013 -- and why. Survey respondents also provided detailed information about reform processes within their own countries, such who has advocated for reform in different sectors and who actively obstructed reform efforts.

Executive: Public Administration – Regulatory Agencies

(UNDP 2015)

Public administration in the 21st century is undergoing dramatic change. This is the case not only in advanced economies, but also in many parts of the developing world. Problems faced by governments are increasingly complex, ‘wicked’ and global, rather than simple, linear, and national in focus. But prevailing ideas about public sector reform often do not fully encompass the significance or implications of these wider developments. This paper argues that public sector reform efforts in developing countries should embrace these changes selectively and draw on a range of public management models that are appropriate to different contexts while putting the needs and interests of citizens at the heart of reform.


Request from Author: gabi.cepal@gmail.com
Gabriel Cepaluni and Umberto G. Mignozzetti

This paper investigates the impact of legislature size on voters’ welfare. While the previous literature focused predominantly on distributive politics and government size, there are very few papers investigating whether larger legislatures lead to better outcomes, especially in developing countries. Using evidence from Brazilian population thresholds in city council size, we show that additional legislators improve significantly the education and health care outcomes in the municipal level. To explain our findings we test three competing explanations for the results: increased electoral competition due to larger city councils, selection of a more diversified pool of politicians, and incentives to increase legislative productivity. We show that electoral competition is the key mechanism behind the results, as it has a disciplinary effect over the politicians. We also show that our results are robust to variations in the estimation technique, and that the effect is mostly homogeneous around the population thresholds. This paper has implications for the design of legislative institutions.

Elections and Political Parties

(USAID 2015)

This manual on Assessing and Verifying Election Results: A Decision-Maker’s Guide to Parallel Vote Tabulation and Other Tools that provides guidance to USAID’s field officers and international development professionals on methodologies designed to assess or verify election results. These include parallel vote tabulations (PVTs), exit polls, and election forensics.

Civil Society Organizations

(BOND 2015)

Civil society needs to take some time to reflect on how the hoped for new deals and goals, and the underlying global trends they reflect, also affect their own longer-term strategies and their place in the shifting world order. This report first looks at the contributions of UK based INGOs in addressing global challenges to do with crises, development and the environment. It then describes seven megatrends affecting the future of crises, development and the environment. The report then identifies ten strategies UK-based INGOs must adopt to remain relevant and valuable in this rapidly changing context. Finally, the report explores how donors and UK-based INGOs can develop a new partnership, before suggesting a way forward.


Ena Dion, International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL, 2015)

For many working in rule of law, worrying about project sustainability is a second-order priority at best. Given the field’s poor record of performance and “string of expensive disappointing experiences,” many commentators think that the rule of law community should focus on making projects succeed, never mind sustain.. However, although the overall success rate of rule of law reforms seems troublingly low, not all reforms have failed. Some projects have made real changes in the lives of ordinary people in the short term, and have delivered or promise to deliver significant benefits over the long term. A result of 67 interviews featuring 27 rule of law projects from Northern Ireland, Colombia, and Afghanistan, the new Guide encourages deeper considerations of the short and long term impacts of systematized decision making, and takes a step toward concretely describing the process of designing and implementing a sustainable project.

(World Bank 2015)

The title of this Report, Mind, Society, and Behavior, captures the idea that paying attention to how humans think (the processes of mind) and how history and context shape thinking (the influence of society) can improve the design and implementation of development policies and interventions that target human choice and action (behavior). To put it differently, development policy is due for its own redesign based on careful consideration of human factors. This Report aims to integrate recent findings on the psychological and social underpinnings of behavior to make them available for more systematic use by both researchers and practitioners in development communities.

Results Based Programming

(Independent Commission for Aid Impact, 2015)

UK aid, at its best, makes a real and positive difference to the lives and livelihoods of poor people around the world. Ensuring the best possible performance across a large and multifaceted aid programme is, however, a complex management challenge. Strengthening results management has been a key priority for DFID in recent years. The department has recognised the importance of demonstrating its results to parliament and the public and has worked to ensure that value for money and accountability are built into its business processes. This focus has become known as the results agenda. We found that the results agenda has helped to bring greater discipline in the measurement of results and greater accountability for the delivery of UK aid. These achievements have, however, involved some important trade-offs. First, some of DFID’s tools and processes for measuring results have had the unintended effect of focussing attention on quantity of results over their quality. Second, DFID’s programmes have an average programme length of just three years. Transformational impact will, however, often be possible only over several programme cycles and this should be recognised explicitly in programme design. This is particularly the case in conflict-affected and fragile states. Third, development programmes rarely achieve results in isolation. Coherence across programming is a key condition for maximising impact. Finally, in order to maximise and make sustainable the impact which DFID aims to achieve, it also needs to ensure high quality engagement with the intended beneficiaries and manage risk more proactively and transparently.

Measurement & Evaluation

Rachel Kleinfeld (Carnegie Endowment 2015)

The development field increasingly looks to sophisticated metrics to measure impact. Simultaneously, practitioners are recognizing that most development programs must engage with politics and policy. Unfortunately, the measurement techniques gaining popularity are those least able to determine how to implement political reforms. Effective reform efforts require planning for and measuring change that is nonlinear and nonincremental. Complexity, or systems, theory offers insights for improving program design and evaluation.

M. Angelucci and Vincenzo Di Maro, (World Bank 2015)

This paper is a practical guide for researchers and practitioners who want to understand spillover effects in program evaluation. The paper defines spillover effects and discusses why it is important to measure them. It explains how to design a field experiment to measure the average effects of the treatment on eligible and ineligible subjects for the program in the presence of spillover effects. In addition, the paper discusses the use of nonexperimental methods for estimating spillover effects when the experimental design is not a viable option. Evaluations that account for spillover effects should be designed such that they explain the cause of these effects and whom they affect. Such an evaluation design is necessary to avoid inappropriate policy recommendations and neglecting important mechanisms through which the program operates.

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 15:3 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 cidgib@albany.edu.

In This Issue

* Improving the Budget Process in Fragile and Conflict-Ridden States: Two Modest Lessons from Afghanistan


* Female Candidates and Legislators

* Advancing Female Education by Improving Democratic Institutions and Women's Political Representation

* Women’s voice and leadership: assessing the evidence

* Doing the survey two-step : the effects of reticence on estimates of corruption in two-stage survey questions

* The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change

* From Old Public Administration to the New Public Service: Implications for Public Sector Reform in Developing Countries

* The More the Better? Impact of Legislature Size on Welfare

* Assessing and Verifying Election Results: A Decision-Maker’s Guide To Parallel Vote Tabulation And Other Tools

* Bond Fast Forward: The Changing Role of UK-based INGOs

* How to Ensure Project Sustainability

* World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior

* DFID’s approach to delivering impact

* Improving Development Aid Design and Evaluation: Plan for Sailboats, Not Trains

* Program evaluation and spillover effects

Center for International Development
Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
State University of New York
99 Pine Street, 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12207

Anti-spam policy | Privacy policy
To ensure you receive our monthly newsletter, make sure you add cidgib@albany.edu to your address book. If you prefer not to receive future email from the Center for International Development, please UNSUBSCRIBE