Are One-Best-Way Models of Effective Government Suitable for Developing Countries?
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 is the current article's question. It argues that good governance work suggests a one-best-way model ostensibly of an idyllic, developed country government: Sweden or Denmark on a good day, perhaps. The model lacks consistency, however, seems inappropriate for use in the development dialog and is not easily convey-able, looking more like a set of well meaning but problematic proverbs. The good governance picture of effective government is not only of limited use in development but also constitutes a threat, promoting isomorphism, institutional dualism, and 'flailing states' and imposing an inappropriate model of government that "kicks away the ladder" 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. A theory of government is needed before we measure government effectiveness or propose specific models of what government should look like. Such theory should address basic questions that center on the fit of different governing systems to different contexts.
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