October 1, 2017
  Governance Information Bulletin 2017:1 Subscribe | Unsubscribe



Tankiso Moloi (SSRN 2017)

The role of foreign aid in assisting nations that are grappling with conflicts, non-democratic regimes, under-development amongst other malaises has been questioned by several scholars. The debate has been structured as to whether foreign aid achieves its objective/s without other unintended consequences to the developing nations, such as the interference in local issues which result in the compromised sovereignty. This essay reviewed related literature on foreign aid and its challenges to developing nation’s sovereignty. On the basis of the conducted assessment, the essay concluded that there cannot be blanket funding without any conditions as some of the opponents seem to be demanding. Conditionality’s around human rights, around good governance, around women empowerment amongst others are deemed necessary and fair. However, conditionality’s around the reduction or eradication of social welfare and trade policies that are detrimental to the recipient nation are unfair. Further, imposing similar condition’s right across without taking into account the fundamental differences within the recipient nations is also unfair. The conclusion in this regard is that foreign aid does pose a challenge to the sovereignty of recipient nations. Evidence as provided by the opponents of foreign aid points to the fact that foreign aid does lead to interference and thereby seeking to divert policy (trade or otherwise) away from what the intentions of the recipient nations are. Those that are in the neutral will argue that interference would only impact policy autonomy but not the state’s right to rule’. Our view is that the inability to self-determine and have your policies dictated somewhere dilutes your right to rule which in essence undermines your sovereignty.

Stephen Howes, Ashlee Betteridge, Lawrence Sause, & Lhawang Ugyel (SSRN 2017)

Evidence-based policy making has been advocated as much, if not more, for developing as developed countries. However, very little attention has been given to the conditions or prerequisites for evidence-based policy making, and whether these are in general more or less likely to hold in developing countries. We argue that an environment conducive to evidence-based policy making is one in which there are strong incentives for good policies to be adopted, capable institutions to implement them, a wide range of domains within which good policy can be adopted, and a ready supply of well-developed policy proposals. Based on the development literature, our own experience, and the comparison of two countries, Australia and Papua New Guinea, we conclude that these conditions are all more likely to exist in developed than developing countries. Developing countries on the other hand have the advantage of foreign aid. Much foreign aid is dedicated to the purpose of facilitating evidence-based policy making. But we argue that at best this is a partial compensation for the other problems faced by developing countries in striving to base their policies more firmly on sound evidence. While this paper is not a counsel for despair, it is a call for realism. Strengthening institutions or the structure of the economy are long-term endeavours. But the dearth of funding for research and teaching is a constraint that can more readily be lifted, especially with support from donors.

Fragile States

(World Bank, 2017)

This report provides the foundation for a new approach to service delivery in violence-affected contexts that is sensitive to the actual forms of violence, politics, and bargaining encountered in many conflict-affected states. The findings unearth issues about how development organizations should approach service delivery in contested settings. As many countries today are riven by conflict and internal division, some familiar rules of the game may be inadequate to deal with the mounting humanitarian and development challenges posed by complex conflict situations, particularly where affected people need access to social services. This raises dilemmas about the ethical and political judgments and trade-offs that development actors frequently have to make. A key challenge is whether development actors can adapt their procedures and ways of working to the fluidity, uncertainties, and risk taking that the new, conflict-riven landscape demands while preserving financial accountability, doing no harm, and ensuring aid effectiveness. Based on research in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, the report probes how social service delivery is affected by violent conflict and what are the critical factors that make or break successful delivery.

Richard Mallett and Rachel Slater (ODI September 2017 )

Since 2011, the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) has sought to understand how processes of post-conflict recovery and state-building play out in some of the world’s most challenging contexts – and to equip policy-makers and practitioners with better information on how to support these processes. State-building and recovery are turbulent processes – and supporting them requires more than technical ‘best-practice’ fixes. Policy and programming need to become more adept at navigating politics, building relationships, and responding to ever-changing situations. This synthesis briefing – one of two in this series summarising the results from SLRC phase I – details five key findings, and associated policy implications, for policy-makers and practitioners working to support state-building, service delivery and recovery in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

Countering Violent Extremism

Jason Lyall, Yang-Yang Zhou, & Kosuke Imai (SSRN 2017)

Governments, militaries, and aid agencies use economic interventions to win "hearts ands minds" among vulnerable populations in wartime. Yet rigorous evidence of whether these programs can reduce support for insurgents remains scarce. We experimentally evaluate a program of livelihood training and one-time unconditional cash transfers on combatant support among 2,579 at-risk youths in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Employing survey methodologies for sensitive questions, we find that training alone has little effect on attitudes towards combatants. Cash initially increases pro-government sentiment, but these effects dissipate by seven months. When combined with livelihood training, cash increased support for the Afghan government while marginally decreasing pro-Taliban sentiment. Our evidence suggests that combatant support is mostly driven by political dynamics, including politicians' ability to capture credit for delivering the program itself, rather than opportunity costs of rebellion.


Annamaria Milazzo,& Markus Goldstein (World Bank, 2017)

What role do institutional constraints and social norms play in determining persistent gender gapsin economic and political participation and have institutional reforms been successful in reducing these gaps? This paper argues that, at the roots of current gender inequalities, there are traditional patriarchal social structures in which power is unequally distributed, with men traditionally holding authority over women. The power imbalance is manifested in governance arrangements, of which the author consider discriminatory formal laws and adverse gender norms that perpetuate gender inequality. The author reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of reforms addressing gender inequality and applied via formal law changes. Aware of endogeneity issues as reforms may be adopted in countries where attitudes toward women had already been improving, we focus on micro-empirical studies that tackle this challenge. The evidence suggests that some reforms have been successful reducing inequalities. Power and norms can shift and sometimes temporary interventions can deliver long-term results. There are, however, enormous challenges posed by power inequalities and inherent social norms that are slow-moving. Formal laws can remain ineffective or cause a backlash because: i) the law is poorly implemented and/or people are not aware of it; ii) informal systems and social norms/sanctions are stronger; iii) powerful groups (in our case, men) may oppose these changes. Finally, reforms that improve women’s economic opportunities can create the conditions to increase political participation and vice-versa, thereby generating a self-reinforcing cycle of inclusion.

Human Rights/Rule of Law

Mark Tushnet (SSRN 2017)

This brief essay, for a collection edited by Carolina Deik, “Crisis of the Rule of Law,” to be published in Colombia, describes some ways in which too much law can be as problematic as too little law. After noting that law’s complexity can introduce some of the arbitrariness that the rule of law seeks to overcome, the essay uses the example of anti-corruption law to suggest how enforcing the law at the retail level might weaken the overall system of the rule of law by eroding public confidence in public institutions, and, sometimes, by weakening those institutions themselves.

Joseph M. Isanga (North Carolina Journal of International Law, Forthcoming 2017)

The Article argues that, to the extent that the Rule of Law promotes accountability and political stability, Africa’s economic growth needs to be premised on the recognition of the intrinsic and inseparable relationship as well the synergy between the Rule of Law and sustainable economic growth, and that African law as well as judicial institutions are not living up to this proposition. The article defines the Rule of Law and presents counterarguments to the proposition that adherence to the Rule of Law is a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for sustainable development. It also presents a critical analysis of African law, including the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, as well as the jurisprudence of African judicial institutions such as the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and sub-regional judicial institutions such as the tribunals of the South African Development Community, the Economic Community of West African States, and the East African Community. In addition, the Article considers jurisprudence from select African countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.


Fraser and Amy Kirbyshire (ODI 2017)

Political institutions, formal or informal, embody the underlying rules and norms within which organisations such as governments, NGOs or companies, operate (North, 1990) and play a defining role in how people and organisations respond to climate-related shocks and stresses. Democratic relations between national and local government, for example, influence capacities for quick response in an emergency, and these responses can in turn affect economic prosperity, competitiveness, livelihoods and well-being. Governance provides us with a broad term for understanding the institutions working across the state, market and civil society. This working paper identifies an agenda for research and practice to create governance that can support human resilience to multiple shocks and stresses.


Executive: Public Administration – Regulatory Agencies

Pablo Yanguas (SSRN 2017)

Why do some states in Africa seem to be stuck in a spiral of corruption and institutional weakness? Why do others somehow build effective bureaucracies that are able and willing to tackle the challenges of development? The public sector remains the inescapable anchor of development, whether for good or ill, but our understanding of the politics of public sector reform remains shackled by concepts that do not allow for variation or change over time. This paper presents a theoretical framework for understanding variations in public sector reform (PSR): centering the analysis on the intersection of power relations and ideas, the paper shows how the stability of a country’s elite settlement and the coherence of its developmental ideology interact with reform ideas in the PSR policy domain. This framework is explored through a structured-focused comparison of reform experiences in three Sub-Saharan African countries with different elite settlements: competitive Ghana; weakly dominant Uganda; and dominant Rwanda. In Ghana, where successive regimes have focused on political control for partisan purposes, it has been quick reforms compatible with top-down control that have achieved political traction. In Uganda, high-visibility reforms were introduced to secure donor funding, as long as they did not threaten the ruling coalition’s power. In Rwanda, lastly, the regime has fostered and protected various public sector reforms because it envisioned them as instruments for domestic legitimation as constituent elements of an impartial developmental state. In combination, policy domain, elite time horizons, and ideational fit allow us to move beyond blanket statements about isomorphic mimicry or neopatrimonialism, and towards a more nuanced understanding of the varieties of state-building in Africa.

Colin Hoag & Matthew Hull (World Bank, 2017)

This paper reviews anthropological literature on the topic of how and why civil services function as they do. The paper considers the formal and informal rules that structure bureaucratic practice, including the effects of institutional history or culture. The review examines how bureaucrats understand or experience their work, such as the rules that guide them; the clients, bosses, or employees with whom they interact; and their own actions. Finally, the review considers what methodological or ethical challenges are posed by the study of bureaucracies. The first section explores normative expectations of organizational practice and how they shape scholars’ accounts of the nature of bureaucratic power. The second section focuses on bureaucratic decision making, scrutinizing how institutional goals manifest in specific practices. The third section considers how sociocultural structures bear on bureaucratic practice, including the question of how organizational history and culture might complicate efforts at institutional reform. The fourth section engages with questions of knowledge production, ignorance, and indeterminacy, reviewing recent literature that questions the presumed role of bureaucracies and states as producers of knowledge. The fifth section explores the conceptual and practical methodological challenges faced by field researchers at institutions, and points toward key areas for future research.

Legislatures/Deliberative Bodies

David E. Guinn (SSRN 2017)

In the USAID funded Legislative Strengthening Project for Cote d’Ivoire, the project sought to promote improved public service delivery utilizing the legislator’s role of representation by creating constituency platforms or work groups in which legislators joined with local governmental and civil society leaders to collaborate on monitoring and advocating for improvements in public service delivery by the national government. LSP piloted this approach in 24 constituencies spread across the country. This paper will review the findings of this initiative and some of the lessons learned. Initial assessments suggest that the collaborate Platforms initiative has proven generally successful in advancing the three principle goals of the initiative: improving MP representation; improving public service delivery; and improving the civil and collaborative engagement of diverse groups within the constituency community. Given the extremely short duration of the current project, the model deserves significantly further development and support including study of lingering questions about the proper management of the Platforms.

Edward R. McMahon (Sociology and Anthropology 5(9): 781-791, 2017)

Over the past three decades the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has undertaken programming designed to support legislatures in playing their role as an integral part of democratic governance. The particular areas of emphasis in programming have evolved due to experience gained, shifting policy priorities, and changes in resource levels. The parabola of assistance arcs from a) basic legislative technical and material assistance to b) an emphasis on legislative modernization plans and champions to c) a broader-based legislative “engagement” approach linking legislative support activities with cross-sectoral policy development and implementation. The latter approach is designed to foster economic and social development. We explore the reasons for this evolution and posit that there has been a move in the direction of USAID programming to support activities to promote integrated and broader development goals. We suggest that there are problems and challenges related to this approach; legislative engagement is not necessarily the alpha and omega of legislative functioning. We conclude however, that despite these challenges, ignoring the interface between legislative support and development may negatively impact the attainment of developmental goals and marginalize legislative support as a subject worthy of USAID focus.

Valentina P. Dimitrova-Grajzl & Iyabo Obasanjo (SSRN 2017)

Many countries in Africa score very low on gender equality measures; yet, these countries also have some of the highest percentages of women in parliament. They have managed to achieve significant representation of women in government through fast track measures such as the implementation of mandated gender quotas. In the context of fast track reform, this paper evaluates the effectiveness of such parliamentary gender quotas in general and different types of quotas more specifically for improving gender equality in Africa. Our findings suggest that although all legislated quota systems lead to an increase in the number of women in policy-making, the type of quota affects the de facto ability of women to influence policy agendas. The channel through which the type of quota affects gender inequality is likely the perceived legitimacy of women in policy-making. Our findings have implications for the design of affirmative action measures targeting women’s participation in the political process.


(World Bank, 2017)

Governments have an opportunity to harness big data solutions to improve productivity, performance and innovation in service delivery and policymaking processes. In developing countries, governments have an opportunity to adopt big data solutions and leapfrog traditional administrative approaches.

Elections and Political Parties

Bruno Kaufmann (IDEA 2017)

Traditionally, in most representative democracies, the power of citizens to make decisions at the ballot box was restricted to the elections of other people and parties to offices and parliament. However, in recent years more and more countries have adopted new possibilities and channels for citizens to make their voices heard—even between election days. The Global Passport to Modern Direct Democracy offers basic information about the tools of direct democracy. It introduces key definitions, describes various tools, and includes recommendations on how to use initiatives, referendums and plebiscites.


Project Design

Jean Barroca, Mikko Koria, Ilari Lindy, and Victor Mulas (World Bank, 2017)

This FrontEnd Toolkit is about applying Design Thinking to transform new ideas into innovative products, services andbusinesses with an impact. The front end development of new user and customer-oriented solutions is a key opportunity as well as a significant challenge for organizations and success is built on collaborative approaches. The overall objective is to help policy- makers, project owners, and managers as well as their stakeholders to design and implement projects with real impact. The Toolkit helps to establish an idea’s key value to stakeholders, and supports planning for the creation of high impact projects. It assists in defining complexity, cost, delivery, functionality,and future upgrade potential of a concept and creates new opportunities for partnerships. The Front End innovation is all about purposefully combining different skills, disciplines, and resources with knowledge related to the local innovation ecosystem to gain insights that inspire and help shape a new, valuable offering. The process of creating this constellation of elements involves understanding emerging opportunities,client and user mindsets, needs and expectations. It also involves making sense of the competitive environment, the social and individual constraints and enablers that drive the acceptance and up take of new products, services and business models.

Cecile Kusters and Karen Batjes with Seerp Wigboldus, Jan Brouwers and Sylvester Dickson Baguma (Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation/Practicial Innovation Publishing, 2017)

This guide shows leaders and development practitioners how to navigate complexity and manage their initiatives/organizations successfully towards sustainable development impact. It takes an integrated, results-oriented management approach, which can be used across a range of sectors and domains in a variety of contexts, and aims to contribute towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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

* Review of Literature on Foreign Aid Granted to Developing Nations and the Determination as to Whether Aid Pose Challenges to Developing Nation's Sovereignty

* Evidence-Based Policy Making in the Tropics: Are Developing Countries Different?

* Social Service Delivery in Violent Contexts : Achieving Results Against the Odds – A Report from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal

* How to Support State-Building, Service Delivery and Recovery in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations

* Reducing Insurgent Support among At-Risk Populations: Experimental Evidence from Cash Transfers and Livelihood Training in Afghanistan

* Governance and Women's Economic and Political Participation : Power Inequalities, Formal Constraints and Norms

* Law As a Crisis for the Rule of Law: A Speculative Essay

* Rule of Law and African Development

* Supporting Governance for Climate Resilience: Working with Political Institutions

* Varieties of State-Building in Africa: Elites, Ideas and the Politics of Public Sector Reform

* A Review of the Anthropological Literature on the Civil Service

* Enhanced Representation and Local Engagement: A Preliminary Review and Assessment of the Platforms Project

* Searching for the Holy Grail: The Evolution of USAID Legislative Support Programming

* Do Parliamentary Gender Quotas Decrease Gender Inequality? The Case of African Countries

* Big Data in Action for Government : Big Data Innovation in Public Services, Policy, and Engagement

* Global Passport to Modern Direct Democracy

* FrontEnd Toolkit: A Toolkit to Transform Ideas into Intelligent Action

* Managing for Sustainable Development Impact - An Integrated Approach to Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

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