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Going with the Grain in African Development?


  • Tim Kelsall


In view of the disappointing performance of the Good Governance agenda in Africa, policy-makers are asking whether better results could be obtained with approaches that attempt to 'work with the grain' of African societies. This article explores what this might mean. It identifies a core set of beliefs and values - concerning power, accountability and social morality - that have proved extremely durable and remain powerful drivers of behaviour across sub-Saharan Africa. It finds that, in general, Western institutions sit ill with these traditions. The question is, therefore, how to redirect development efforts so that they stop working against, and start to build upon, the extant notions of moral obligation and interpersonal accountability in the region. Copyright (c) The Author 2008. Journal compilation (c) 2008 Overseas Development Institute..

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Kelsall, 2008. "Going with the Grain in African Development?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 26(6), pages 627-655, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:devpol:v:26:y:2008:i:6:p:627-655

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joshua C. Gellers, 2016. "Crowdsourcing global governance: sustainable development goals, civil society, and the pursuit of democratic legitimacy," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 415-432, June.
    2. Emily Boyd & Natasha Grist & Sirkku Juhola & Valerie Nelson, 2009. "Exploring Development Futures in a Changing Climate: Frontiers for Development Policy and Practice," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 27(6), pages 659-674, November.
    3. J. Warren Evans & Robin Davies, 2015. "Too Global to Fail : The World Bank at the Intersection of National and Global Public Policy in 2025," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 20603.
    4. William Easterly, 2002. "The cartel of good intentions: The problem of bureaucracy in foreign aid," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(4), pages 223-250.
    5. José Antonio Ocampo & Natalie Gómez-Arteaga, 2016. "Accountability in International Governance and the 2030 Development Agenda," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 7(3), pages 305-314, September.
    6. Gert Spaargaren & Peter Oosterveer, 2010. "Citizen-Consumers as Agents of Change in Globalizing Modernity: The Case of Sustainable Consumption," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(7), pages 1-22, June.
    7. Robin Davies & Jonathan Pickering, 2015. "Making Development Co-operation Fit for the Future: A Survey of Partner Countries," OECD Development Co-operation Working Papers 20, OECD Publishing.
    8. Goran Hyden, 2008. "After the Paris Declaration: Taking on the Issue of Power," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 26(3), pages 259-274, May.
    9. Deepa Narayan & Robert Chambers & Meera K. Shah & Patti Petesch, 2000. "Voices of the Poor : Crying Out for Change," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13848.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kyamusugulwa, Patrick M. & Hilhorst, Dorothea, 2015. "Power Holders and Social Dynamics of Participatory Development and Reconstruction: Cases from the Democratic Republic of Congo," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 249-259.
    2. Roseth, Benjamin & Srivastava, Vivek, 2013. "Engaging for results in civil service reforms : early lessons from a problem-driven engagement in Sierra Leone," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6458, The World Bank.

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