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State-Society Synergy for Accountability : Lessons for the World Bank


  • World Bank


The paper first surveys the literature on accountability and establishes a categorization of the different ways by which civil society can interact with the state in order to improve accountability. It then explores in detail seven case studies of successful experiences of state-society synergy for accountability. The studies draw from a wide range of different contexts (Brazil, India, Mexico, the United States) and from a variety of different areas of government activity (corruption control, environmental regulation, poverty reduction, election monitoring, infrastructure provision, school reform, police reform). The paper concludes with a series of conceptual and practical lessons for World Bank staff on how best to initiate, design, and implement successful pro-accountability mechanisms grounded in state-society synergy. Some of the most important lessons include the need to fully institutionalize participative mechanisms, to involve societal actors from the very beginning of the design stage of the process, to open up participation to a wide diversity of social and political actors, and to complement decentralization with centralized supervision.

Suggested Citation

  • World Bank, 2004. "State-Society Synergy for Accountability : Lessons for the World Bank," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14944, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbpubs:14944

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Archon Fung & Erik Olin Wright, 2001. "Deepening Democracy: Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance," Politics & Society, , vol. 29(1), pages 5-41, March.
    2. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
    3. Paul, Samuel, 1992. "Accountability in public services: Exit, voice and control," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(7), pages 1047-1060, July.
    4. Fox, Jonathan A & Aranda, Josefina, 1996. "Decentralization and Rural Development in Mexico: Community Participation in Oaxaca's Municipal Funds Program," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt5jk3b9gt, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
    5. Wallis, Joe & Dollery, Brian, 2001. "Government Failure, Social Capital and the Appropriateness of the New Zealand Model for Public Sector Reform in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 245-263, February.
    6. Weingast, Barry R., 1997. "The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of the Law," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 91(2), pages 245-263, June.
    7. Fox, Jonathan A, 1994. "The Difficult Transition from Clientelism to Citizenship: Lessons from Mexico," Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, Working Paper Series qt4n4746hk, Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, UC Santa Cruz.
    8. Philip Oxhorn, 2001. "La construcción del Estado por la sociedad civil: La ley de participación popular de Bolivia y el desafío de la democracia local," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 10618, Inter-American Development Bank.
    9. Anne Marie Goetz & Rob Jenkins, 2001. "Hybrid Forms Of Accountability: Citizen engagement in institutions of public-sector oversight in India," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 363-383, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aruna Jayathilaka & P. L. T. Purasinghe, 2017. "Bridging the Great Divide between State and Society (A Study on Two Initiatives of Enhancing the State ?Society Synergy in Sri Lanka)," Asian Development Policy Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 5(2), pages 81-89, June.
    2. Abu Sarker & Mohammad Rahman, 2015. "The Role of Social Accountability in Poverty Alleviation Programs in Developing Countries: An Analysis with Reference to Bangladesh," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 317-333, June.


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