The Good Governance Agenda: Beyond Indicators without Theory
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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Volume (Year): 36 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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