2 April 2014.
By Kunal Sen.
On 2-4 March 2014 the Stanford Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) Governance Project organised a workshop on “Measuring State Quality: In China and Beyond”.
The workshop was led by Francis Fukuyama and attracted a high profile group of participants. The attendees included qualitative and quantitative political scientists from the United States and continental Europe, Chinese scholars and US public administration officials. Some of them are already engaged with ESID’s work, such as Peter Evans – one of ESID’s advisory group members – and Matt Andrews from the Harvard Kennedy School; this meeting provided an opportunity to make new connections.
The objectives of the workshop were twofold:
31 March 2014.
By Pablo Yanguas.
With “Effective States” as the first half of our name (and the entirety of our url!), ESID’s conceptual approach to the politics of development places a major emphasis on the ability of the public sector to deliver quality services. Most of our work in that regard has so far focused on the concept and measurement of state capacity: professors Kunal Sen, Antonio Savoia and Matthias vom Hau are three of our leading researchers in this area. However, sooner or later we would have to move beyond concepts and into processes, which is why we now have a dedicated project on public sector reform (PSR).
PSR is not a popular topic of research. It has been decades now since political science moved away from public administration, even if recent trends in democratisation, rule of law, political economy and conflict resolution analysis have all hinted at the centrality of the state institutions and organisations as a source of public authority. On the policy side, the development community has been dealing for some time now with the “failure” of the public sector reform agenda: beyond the walls of finance ministries and central banks where international financial experts tend to find intellectual allies, the reform of public administration and the control of public corruption have been constant headaches for donors and reformers alike. The politics of PSR are positively nightmarish.
26 March 2014.
By Binayak Sen.
Bangladesh’s experience of the last two decades suggests that decent long-term economic development can take place under political regimes engaged in a mimicry of democracy. In other contexts, arguably, such a mismatch between economic and political moments (unstable political equilibrium) would not have lasted long: it would lead either to authoritarian rule or to a more acceptable order of inclusive democracy. What is it in our past development that makes democratic mimicry persistent? There must be some structural factors that underline such democratic mimicry: in fact, the very factors that gave rise to our economic success also contained elements that contributed to democratic underdevelopment or even backtracking, marked by a dysfunctionality of political institutions with negative spill-overs on the society at large through sporadic uncontrolled outbreaks of extremist violence.
25 March 2014.
There is increasing recognition that governance matters, to the point of considering it a desirable global development goal in its own right. In the latest ESID working paper – Governance as a Global Development Goal? – David Hulme, Antonio Savoia and Kunal Sen explore the possibility of setting and monitoring governance goals for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
After assessing existing cross-national measures on governance quality, they argue that, in the long run, measuring and monitoring governance quality may require reconceptualising “good governance” and designing internationally shared measures that are routinely provided by national statistical offices.
Here are some excerpts: Continue Reading →
20 March 2014
Yesterday George Osborne’s budget speech restated Britain’s commitment to meet the target of 0.7% of national income contributed as foreign assistance. As a matter of fact, given the economic growth forecasts for the country the target may have already been reached. However, while it certainly represent a laudable goal in terms of international solidarity, the 0.7% target is silent on the question of effectiveness: whether the additional aid contributed by UK taxpayers will in fact improve the lives of the poor around the world.
The Washington-based Center for Global Development compiles every year a Commitment to Development Index, which includes a foreign aid component penalizing donors for channeling assistance to corrupt governments or overburdening recipients with small projects. In the current Index Britain ranks 7th out of 27 donors: not a bad position, but still behind the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and Ireland. Continue Reading →