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The Good Governance Agenda: Beyond Indicators without Theory

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  • Matt Andrews
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    Abstract

    Effective government matters, but what is it? Good governance indicators go some way to provide a definition, but how much do they say about what effectiveness is, why this is so, and how it matters to development? This article argues that much work on the good governance agenda suggests a one-best-way model, ostensibly of an idyllic, developed country government: Sweden or Denmark on a good day, perhaps. The implied model lacks consistency, however, seems inappropriate for use in the development dialogue and is not easily replicated. In short, it resembles a set of well meaning but problematic proverbs. The good governance picture of effective government is not only of limited use in development policy but also threatens to promote dangerous isomorphism, institutional dualism and “flailing states”. It imposes an inappropriate model of government that “kicks away the ladder” that today's effective governments climbed to reach their current states. The model's major weakness lies in the lack of an effective underlying theoretical framework to assist in understanding government roles and structures in development. A framework is needed before we measure government effectiveness or propose specific models of what government should look like. Given the evidence of multiple states of development, the idea of a one-best-way model actually seems very problematic.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Oxford Development Studies.

    Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 379-407

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:36:y:2008:i:4:p:379-407

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    Cited by:
    1. Gaoussou DIARRA & Patrick PLANE, 2011. "Assessing the World Bank’s influence on the good governance paradigm," Working Papers 201127, CERDI.
    2. Lant Pritchett & Michael Woolcock & Matt Andrews, 2013. "Looking Like a State: Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(1), pages 1-18, January.
    3. repec:rej:journl:v:16:y:2013:i:50:p:3-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Gisselquist, Rachel M., 2013. "Evaluating governance indexes: Critical and less critical questions," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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