IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/wdevel/v32y2004i2p191-212.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development

Author

Listed:
  • Pritchett, Lant
  • Woolcock, Michael

Abstract

The welfare of the poor turns in large measure not only on technocratic development "policies", but the effective delivery of key public services, core elements of which require thousands of face-to-face discretionary transactions ("practices") by service providers. The importance of (often idiosyncratic) "practices" was largely ignored in the 1960s and 70s, however, as planners in developing countries sought to rapidly emulate the service delivery mechanisms of the developed countries, namely standardized (top-down) "programs" managed by a centralized civil service bureaucracy. Although this approach could claim some notable successes in poor countries, it soon became readily apparent that it had failed early and often in virtually all sectors. Three common civil service reforms in the 1980s also yielded disappointing results, so in the 1990s scholars and practitioners began to tout more radical "participatory" (or bottom-up) proposals for improving service delivery. These new proposals have generated a series of unusual alliances and antagonisms in contemporary development debates. We attempt to unravel these debates by distinguishing between the original solution and eight current proposals for improving service delivery, on the basis of a principal-agent model of incentives that explores how these various proposals change flows of resources, information, decision-making, delivery mechanisms, and accountability. We briefly assess the arguments made by proponents and detractors of each approach, and suggest some of the implications of this framework for education, research, and those charged with improving service delivery.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2004. "Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-212, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:32:y:2004:i:2:p:191-212
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305-750X(03)00220-1
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Soniya Carvalho & Gillian Perkins & Howard White, 2002. "Social funds, sustainability and institutional development impacts: findings from an OED Review," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(5), pages 611-625.
    2. Kanbur Ravi, 2001. "Economic Policy, Distribution and Poverty: The Nature of Disagreements," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-26, April.
    3. Anthony Bebbington & Scott Guggenheim & Elizabeth Olson & Michael Woolcock, 2004. "Exploring Social Capital Debates at the World Bank," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(5), pages 33-64.
    4. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    5. Roubini, N., 1989. "Offset And Sterilization Under Fixed Exchange Rates With An Optimization Central Bank," Papers 568, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    6. Jonathan Isham, 2002. "The Effect of Social Capital on Fertiliser Adoption: Evidence from Rural Tanzania," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 11(1), pages 39-60, March.
    7. Conning, Jonathan & Kevane, Michael, 2002. "Community-Based Targeting Mechanisms for Social Safety Nets: A Critical Review," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 375-394, March.
    8. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
    9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521372817 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Isham, Jonathan & Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Does Participation Improve Performance? Establishing Causality with Subjective Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(2), pages 175-200, May.
    11. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:32:y:2004:i:2:p:191-212. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.