April 1, 2017
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Anna Lührmann, Kelly M. McMann, Carolien Van Ham (SSRN 2017)

Large-N studies suggest that democracy aid is effective, while multiple small-N investigations call such findings into question. This paper accounts for this contradiction and significantly improves our understanding of democracy aid effectiveness by disaggregating democracy aid into specific types and examining effectiveness in different regime types. We argue that a specific type of aid is more likely to be effective when the aid does not pose a threat to regime survival and when the aid matches the particular democratic deficits in a country. Analysis of OECD aid and Varieties of Democracy data for 119 countries from 2002-2012.


(IDS Bulletin Vol 48, No 2 (2017))

What are the smaller stories hidden within the larger trends on governance in Africa, and to what extent has decentralisation affected change in these areas? What are the factors that keep local government reforms from achieving more complete outcomes? These are the main questions asked by this IDS Bulletin, with articles focusing on explanations for the impact of decentralisation at the local level through detailed case studies of five countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. This issue deals with all three of the main aims for decentralisation reforms in Africa: improved service delivery, democracy and participation, and a reduction in central government expenditure. It analyses micro, comparative stories by accumulating evidence on how decentralisation works differently within each featured country, and the factors that are responsible for differential outcomes. Contributors are mostly African scholars who live under the region’s decentralised systems and study them with a proximate lens often denied to visiting scholars. Their research questions, on their countries’ respective policy agendas, are joined by the common belief that more innovative methods should be applied to these questions in order to get at better explanations. While decentralisation is an important issue, systematic analyses of its outcomes are limited. This IDS Bulletin represents an effort to use more innovative and incisive methods to understand decentralisation and its impact – with more resources, such enquiries can be strengthened to provide deeper understanding.

Fragile States

George Frederick Willcoxon (UN ESCWA, 2017)

It is critical for policymakers and stakeholders across the Arab region to prepare for post-civil war peacebuilding, recovery, and transition. Once fighting subsides, societies have narrow windows of opportunity to consolidate their transitions and prevent war relapse. This paper conducts statistical analyses on a dataset of all post-civil war episodes since 1970 to identify risk factors for civil war relapse, with particular attention to factors thought to be relevant in the Arab region. The analyses find three drivers of post-war risk: political institutions, military factors, and income growth per capita. Notably, democracy, elections, and larger armed forces each substantially reduce post-war risk of relapse, ceteris paribus. Foreign military intervention triples the risk. Decentralization substantially reduces risk of relapse in the first four-and-one-half years after the end of civil war, but substantially increases the risk of relapse thereafter. The impact of economic growth on risk also changes over time: higher growth per capita is associated with greater risk until about 20 months into the post-war period, and is associated with substantially lower risk thereafter. Other economic variables evidently have no significant association with post-war risk of relapse. The analyses also find that the impacts of predetermined factors, of power sharing institutions, and of post-conflict justice mechanisms are either small or indeterminate. The results have critical relevance for post-war policymaking in the Arab region, and indicate that peacebuilders should focus most of their time and resources on carefully designing the political institutions and military architectures of post-war societies, while balancing the time-variant risks of economic growth.


(NDI, 2017)

Historically, violence against women in politics (VAW-P) has been a largely hidden phenomenon, but it is a real and grave concern for all those dedicated to strengthening democracies around the world, and it cannot be allowed to continue. There is a need to raise awareness about this violence, create new norms and standards against it, construct processes to register and respond to complaints, provide services for women who are victims and punish the perpetrators of violence. To do so, all relevant stakeholders must commit to act together to confront VAW-P, which will contribute to strengthening democratic culture and practice, and achieving prosperous and resilient societies. This publication aims to provide guidance on how to achieve this goal, addressing democracy practitioners in particular as a well-positioned group to develop and conduct programs to eradicate violence against politically active women.

Anna Dziedzic (IDEA, 2016)

A constitutional text that enshrines and protects gender equality and women’s rights is a significant achievement. However, a new constitutional text marks only the beginning, and not the end, of the road to achieving substantive gender equality. The constitutional provisions and the principles on which they are based must be put into practice through the processes of constitutional implementation. This practice-oriented Discussion Paper explores the dynamics and processes of constitutional implementation and the particular challenges of gender-responsive constitutional implementation.

Y. Turianskyi; M. Chisiza (South Africa Institute of International Affairs, 2017)

Gender equality is a basic human right that entails equal opportunities for men and women in all facets of life: socially, economically, developmentally and politically. According to the Beijing Platform for Action, without the active participation of women in and the incorporation of their perspectives at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved. This paper sets out to examine the increased female representation in Rwanda’s Parliament to determine whether it has affected women in other spheres of life. It also provides an overview of the current status of women in African politics, as well as of the current governance situation in Rwanda. It is clear that Rwanda has made significant efforts to elevate the status of women in its post-genocide society. However, it is also important to recognise Parliament’s limitations in an increasingly authoritarian system of governance. While women members of Parliament have passed legislation to empower women in society, a lack of information and education prevents many from taking advantage of new opportunities. Yet Rwanda is clearly on the right path towards improving its gender parity and must uphold its efforts to do so, while prioritising formal education for girls and women at all levels.

Human Rights/Rule of Law

Lorena Cohan, Yemile Mizrahi, & Charles E. Costello (USAID 2016)

This Field Guide is an effort to support USAID officers and other practitioners in the Latin America and Caribbean region who are working on citizen security. It provides a conceptual framework for understanding crime, violence, and prevention as part of broader citizen-security systems; evidence-based information about effective interventions to prevent crime and violence; and practical advice and tools on how to design, implement, measure, and evaluate crime and violence-prevention and citizen-security projects. The guide incorporates the research findings of academic and development practitioners in an analysis of crime and violence in the region. Democracy and governance specialists often lead citizen security–related programming, but cross-sectoral approaches are needed to address the multicausal drivers of and risk factors for crime and violence. While citizen insecurity negatively affects development, deeply rooted development problems—such as poor workforce development, limited employment opportunities, underperforming schools, poor family planning, and inadequate access to and quality of public health services—also drive crime and violence. USAID’s Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Bureau produced this Field Guide by drawing extensively from examples from the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The guide is applicable to a wide range of contexts, however, and intended for use by stakeholders working on crime, violence, and citizen-security issues across the world.


Legislatures/Deliberative Bodies

(IPU 2017)

This self-assessment toolkit provides parliaments with the framework to evaluate their readiness to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It further helps parliamentarians identify good practices, opportunities and lessons learned on how to effectively institutionalize the SDGs and mainstream them into the legislative process.


Dan Archer, Margaret Boittin &Cecilia Hyunjung Mo (USAID 2016)

This paper presents the results of a series of randomized controlled trials in Nepal to determine the effectiveness of media campaigns designed to raise counter-trafficking in persons awareness. The researchers developed, tested, and randomly assigned campaigns, varying by format; the narratives were further varied by message type, and participants were randomly assigned to experience the campaigns in an individual or group setting. The findings show that all campaigns increased general knowledge about trafficking, ability to self-identify as victims, and ability to recognize trafficking situations that have affected family and friends. The campaigns also increased respondents’ sense of urgency about trafficking in Nepal, commitment to act to address it, and actions to prevent it. However, the campaigns did not increase respondents’ awareness of trafficking in their own communities. The research also found differences in campaign effects: narrative formats were more effective than a fact-based poster, and empowerment narratives were more effective than fear-based narratives. The research suggests a policy preference for use of radio in a country such as Nepal, where radio is cost effective.


Jessica Vapnek, Peter Boaz, & Helga Turku (SSRN 2017)

Accessible, fair, and efficient justice systems are key to effective governance and the rule of law. Without access to justice, people – especially the poor and disenfranchised – are unable to realize their rights, challenge discrimination, or hold decision-makers accountable. As a necessary precondition for both justice and security, therefore, the rule of law is key to sustainable development. For this reason, access to justice recently assumed its rightful place in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The purpose of many rule-of-law assistance projects is to help make justice systems accessible and worthy of public confidence. This article reviews several donor-funded rule-of-law projects implemented in various parts of the world, offering some empirical insights into how they build trust in the judicial system and facilitate access to courts. Because international donors are in a unique position to shape planned interventions to improve access to justice and the rule of law, they need access to information about initiatives undertaken and lessons learned. This article is intended to share experiences implementing access-to-justice activities in developing countries and countries in transition. The authors first define the rule of law and access to justice; they then profile projects implemented around the world that use various methods to build public trust in the judicial system; and finally they review different strategies, from the complex to the straightforward, that have been implemented to remove barriers to accessing the judicial system.


Francois Van Schalkwyk, Michelle A. Willmers, Tobias Schonwetter (SSRN 2017)

Too little attention has been paid by the open data movement to the institutional dynamics of governments and other public agencies; nor has the research community drawn sufficient attention to the institutional dynamics at play in the implementation of open data initiatives in public agencies. It is the institutionally-attuned measurement of emerging open data practice in government that this paper explores in order to develop a deeper understanding of the barriers to change from a default position of closed to a new openness in government as an institution. Using the cases of South Africa and Kenya, the study develops and tests a set of indicators that measure the extent to which open data practice has been embedded. The findings show that open data practice is not embedded within and across the governments examined. The paper concludes that open government data initiatives will continue to hit a wall of inertia unless openness can be reconciled with those institutionalized values and norms that prevail at all levels of government.

S. Sharmin, Becky Faith, Pedro Prieto Martín, and Ben Ramalingam (IDS 2017)

The explosion in digital connectivity, globalization and the rapid growth in digital technologies over the last two decades has revolutionized the way that businesses perform and compete globally. Governments around the world have been put under strong pressure to transform themselves into electronic governments, in recognition of the efficiencies brought about by the appropriate use of information communication technologies (ICTs) in businesses and the need for development. The aim has been to maximize the state’s capacity to serve its stakeholders: namely citizens, business, employees and other government and non-government agencies. E-government or digital government has been a significant feature of public sector reform in recent years in both developed and developing countries with a substantial amount of resources dedicated to the development of necessary systems and infrastructure. Yet the transformational potential of digital for development risks not being replicated in the real world. Large-scale and sustainable use of ICTs for education is not yet being realized in developing countries, despite the fact that digital technologies have the potential to reduce costs and strengthen education systems. In the field of health care, mHealth systems are reaching significant scale in many developing countries but there is still a lack of concrete evidence with which to fully assess the economic impact of these technologies. This report explores and assesses the evidence for the impact and use of digital technologies in development, identifying cross-cutting themes that are important for use, implementation and scale-up. These include funding and infrastructure, policy commitments by government, skills and leadership.

Elections and Political Parties

N. Kerr; A. Lührmann (Afrobarometer 2017)

As multiparty elections have become a global norm, scholars and policy experts regard public trust in elections as vital for regime legitimacy. However, very few cross-national studies have examined the consequences of electoral manipulation, including the manipulation of election administration and the media, on citizens’ trust in elections. This paper addresses this gap by exploring how autonomy of election management bodies (EMBs) and media freedom individually and conjointly shape citizens’ trust in elections. Citizens are more likely to express confidence in elections when EMBs display de facto autonomy and less likely to do so when mass media disseminate information independent of government control. Additionally, the authors suggest that EMB autonomy may not have a positive effect on public trust in elections if media freedom is low. Empirical findings based on recent survey data on public trust in elections in 47 countries and expert data on de facto EMB autonomy and media freedom support our hypotheses.

Civil Society Organizations

Kate Baldwin, Shylock Muyengwa & Eric Mvukiyehe (WB 2017)

How can patrimonial local-level governance be reformed? Debates on this topic have focused largely on the possibility of reform via pressure from above (superordinate leaders) or below (citizens). This paper tests whether horizontal pressures from civil society leaders can reform local governance in a context where neither of these mechanisms operates effectively. The study analyzes an experimental intervention in Zimbabwe intended to reduce abuse of power by village heads. Analytic leverage comes from the fact that the 270 study villages were randomly assigned to two variants of the intervention, one in which only village heads were trained on the framework governing village leadership, and one in which civil society leaders were trained alongside village heads. The results suggest that horizontal pressure from civil society leaders increased village heads' knowledge of and compliance with regulated procedures, improved their management of issues and raised citizens' trust in their leadership. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the mechanisms through which the trained civil society leaders had these effects suggests they accomplished reform by directly applying social pressure on village heads to abide by regulations.


Politically Engaged Programming

Leni Wild, David Booth and Craig Valters (ODI, 2017)

To tackle today’s big global challenges, we need to move beyond the classic aid assumption: that if only we provide enough money and technical knowledge, these problems will be solved. We need to engage with the underlying social, political and economic systems, and the incentives and behaviours of the actors within them. Doing this is not easy. It requires a focus on testing, learning and adapting, working with local reformers to define, debate and refine problems and their solutions, and being politically smart about how donors work in diverse contexts. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has begun to take some of these challenges seriously, focusing on how its own processes and systems need to adapt. This report reflects the experience of staff from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in supporting these efforts within DFID throughout 2016. It is particularly timely: commitments to do development differently have particular relevance as DFID is coming under considerable political and media scrutiny and scepticism. We found that DFID’s portfolio of programmes increasingly exhibit some ‘doing development differently’ features, across sectoral work on governance, private sector development, basic service delivery, conflict and gender. There is a growing emphasis on being ‘problem driven’ – setting aside standard formulas and templates and focusing instead on specific constraints to development that need to be unlocked to enable progress. Less encouragingly, DFID programmes have found it harder to commit upfront to experimentation and ‘learning by doing’ as a core method of work.

Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock (Oxford UP, 2017)

Governments play a major role in the development process, constantly introducing reforms and policies to achieve developmental objectives. Many of these interventions have limited impact, however; schools get built but children don’t learn, IT systems are introduced but not used, plans are written but not implemented. These achievement deficiencies reveal gaps in capabilities, and weaknesses in the process of building state capability. This book addresses these weaknesses and gaps. It provides evidence of the capability shortfalls that currently exist in many countries, analyses this evidence and identifies capability traps that hold many governments back—particularly related to isomorphic mimicry and premature load-bearing. The book then describes a process that governments can use to escape these capability traps. Called PDIA (Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation), this process empowers people working in governments to find and fit solutions to the problems they face. This process is explained in a practical manner so that readers can actually apply tools and ideas to the capability challenges they face in their own contexts. These applications will help readers implement policies and reforms that have more impact than those of the past. (Available as an open access title under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Capacity Development/Institutional Change

Alina Rocha Menocal (ODI 2017)

Evidence shows that, over the long term, states and societies with more open and inclusive institutions are more peaceful and more resilient, and tend to be better governed. What is less clear, however, is how different countries get there. This paper, published in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), seeks to address this question by exploring institutional transformation in Asia. It analyses how political systems, and the political settlements and rules of the game that underpin them, have evolved over time in different contexts in Asia, and what lessons emerge from these experiences about prospects for more inclusive development elsewhere. A key lesson is that promoting growth and combatting the roots of poverty and inequality is not simply about providing resources and strengthening virtuous institutions based on ideal models of governance. That should be encouraging, as it suggests there may be multiple paths to institutional performance and, ultimately, inclusion. There is room for flexibility in the short to medium term as countries seek to promote growth and more inclusive development, even if confronted with important institutional weaknesses. What is needed is a more strategic and pragmatic perspective on institutional reform that can help identify and prioritise which governance improvements are most crucial at different stages of growth to enable more inclusive development.

Results Based Programming

Helena Bjuremalm, William Sjöstedt (IDEA, 2016)

During the last two decades the policy and practice of results management has leaned towards emphasizing control and upward accountability. In recent years, however, a small but growing body of policymakers and practitioners in democracy assistance have initiated innovative efforts in results management, allowing for more learning and local ownership. Some of these initiatives use sense-making sessions to transform individual learning into institutional learning; most are open to adapt implementation to changing (political) contexts and place ownership firmly with partners to safeguard their space for learning. This Discussion Paper argues that results management practice in democracy assistance work needs to be done differently to get at the main goal: making democracy assistance more relevant and effective and enabling larger impact. The arguments made in the paper come from a series of conversations that took place among democracy assistance practitioners between 2014 and 2016. They reflect engagement with emerging debates and signs of shifting policies and practices in development cooperation more generally.

Assessment Tools and Strategies

Knowledge Management

J. Georgalakis, N. Jessani, R. Oronje, and B. Ramalingam (Editors) (IDS 2017)

This edited collection of peer-reviewed papers explores critical challenges faced by organisations and individuals involved in evidence-informed development through a diverse set of case studies and think-pieces. In this chapter we briefly set out the foundations of the trend in evidence-informed decision-making and reflect on a fast-changing development knowledge landscape. The dominant themes emerging from the contributions provide the structure for this chapter, including: building networks and partnerships; contextualisation of knowledge and power dynamics; and modes of knowledge brokerage. An analysis of these themes, and the respective roles of researchers, non-governmental organisations, large programmes and policy actors, suggests that a common thread running throughout is the importance of social relationships. We find that the social and interactive realities of mobilising knowledge comprise several layers: (i) individual and collective capacities, (ii) individual relationships, (iii) networks and group dynamics, and (iv) cultural norms and politics, which are all key to understanding how to make evidence really matter.


Political Economy Analysis

(Toolkit) Lisa Denney and Pilar Domingo (ODI 2017)

This guidance note is for use by those involved in the design and delivery of pro bono and legal technical assistance projects aimed at advancing the rule of law in developing countries. Seeking to bring about change in relation to the rule of law requires an understanding of the particular political and economic factors that exist within a context. PEA is an approach through which to consider these factors, identify underlying needs and problems in relation to the rule of law, and determine how legal technical assistance can contribute to effective and sustainable solutions.

Measurement, Evaluation & Learning

Peter O'Flynn and Chris Barnett (IDS 2017)

This report highlights the paradox within impact investing: the prioritization of ‘social impact’ without prioritising ‘impact evidence’. The growth of metrics, ratings and certification-based approaches has sought to address this gap but this only goes so far, and there is a need for a more evaluative approach to assessing impact. Drawing on the field of development evaluation, the report sets out five criteria for a ‘more evaluative’ way of assessing impact (impact, differential impact, plausible causality, aggregation, and accountability). The report then reviews a subset of more than 100 resources against these criteria and concludes that while there are some promising methods, each has different strengths and limitations in providing a more robust assessment of impact. As such, the report warns that trade-offs need to be carefully considered, for instance between different methods that provide greater standardization versus those that provide greater specificity – and the cost/benefit trade-offs for investors in using each approach. Furthermore, just one method is unlikely to be sufficient by itself and there is a need for more guidance, innovation and learning for investors on methodological choices and how best to combine and complement different approaches for assessing impact in a cost-effective manner. Without such innovations it will become harder for impact investors to differentiate themselves from the more orthodox investment industry.

Melissa Leach, John Gaventa, and Katy Oswald (IDS Bulletin 47.6, 2017)

Who defines good quality research? How, why and with whom should we co-construct knowledge? What counts as impact? How do we build enduring partnerships? The articles in this IDS Bulletin aim to answer these questions based on IDS’ approach of ‘engaged excellence’. This is where the high quality of work (excellence) is dependent upon it linking to and involving those who are at the heart of the change we wish to see (engaged). Acknowledging the worldwide struggle of researchers, policymakers and practitioners to create knowledge that is both rigorous in its own right while being relevant and useful to those whose lives and futures are potentially affected by new evidence, insights and concepts, engaged excellence combines conceptually and empirically innovative research with extensive engagement with particular countries and people through IDS’ practices, partners and students. Four pillars of engaged excellence are identified as delivering high quality research; co-constructing knowledge; mobilising impact-orientated evidence, and building enduring partnerships. Uniquely, the articles in this IDS Bulletin bring these together to show that they are interrelated and mutually dependent, with contributors raising challenges around reflecting more deeply on what engaged excellence means in different contexts. The complexity and interrelationships become most real when the four pillars are applied in practice. The value of this IDS Bulletin is that it illustrates the challenges, trade-offs and difficulties of using such an approach while contributing to a more cognitively just world in which our research engages with those at the centre of change.

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 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.

David E. Guinn

In This Issue

* The Effectiveness of Democracy Aid to Different Regime Types and Democracy Sectors

* Interrogating Decentralisation in Africa

* Political Transformation and Conflict: Post-War Risks in the Arab Region

* #NotTheCost: Program Guidance for Stopping Violence Against Women in Politics

* From Paper to Lived Reality: Gender-Responsive Constitutional Implementation

* Lessons From Rwanda: Female Political Representation And Women’s Rights

* Crime And Violence Prevention Field Guide

* Parliaments and the Sustainable Development Goals –A Self-Assessment Toolkit

* Reducing Vulnerability to Human Trafficking: An Experimental Intervention Using Anti-Trafficking Campaigns to Change Knowledge, Attitudes, Beliefs, and Practices in Nepal

* Improving Access to Justice in Developing and Post-Conflict Countries: Practical Examples from the Field

* Institutionalizing Open Data in Government

* The Contribution of Digital Technologies to Service Delivery: An Evidence Review

* Public Trust in Elections: The Role of Media Freedom and Election Management Autonomy

* Reforming Village-Level Governance Via Horizontal Pressure: Evidence from an Experiment in Zimbabwe

* Putting Theory Into Practice: How DFID Is Doing Development Differently

* Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action

* Inclusive Development And The Politics Of Transformation: Lessons From Asia

* Flexibility, Learning and Ownership: New Trends in Democracy Assistance, Results Management and Evaluation

* The Social Realities of Knowledge for Development: Sharing Lessons of Improving Development Processes with Evidence

* Political economy analysis: guidance for legal technical assistance

* Evaluation and Impact Investing: A Review of Methodologies to Assess Social Impact

* Engaged Excellence

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