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The Politics of Public Policy in Ghana


  • Michael W. Kpessa

    (Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, Canada)


This article examines the trajectories and approaches to public policy making in Africa. Using process tracing interlaced with analysis of historical records, secondary literature, and elite interviews, the article shows that since the 1990s, policy making in some African countries, especially Ghana, has been witnessing a gradual shift away from bureaucratic approaches to policy making to the ones that directly engage the citizenry through consultation and open public participation. The article shows that this shift to citizenry participation is largely due to an emphasis in the development literature on good governance broadly defined to include public participation, and the view of civil society as a platform for social transformation. The article provides a step-by-step analysis of strategies used in recent social security reforms in Ghana to illustrate this change in approach to public policy, and shows that public participation approach to policy making is fraught with several structural challenges and impediments that not only privilege elites’ preferences over the unorganized rural dwellers but also questions some of the fundamental principles of the good governance mantra.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael W. Kpessa, 2011. "The Politics of Public Policy in Ghana," Journal of Developing Societies, , vol. 27(1), pages 29-56, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jodeso:v:27:y:2011:i:1:p:29-56

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