Working paper 64
Timothy P. Williams
When it comes to the delivery of services to the poor, politics matter. This paper applies a political settlements framework to approach the study of primary education quality in Rwanda. In recent years, the government of Rwanda has received recognition for its commitment to expand education for all young people. But the drivers for improving quality have been less straightforward. Through process tracing from national to local levels, this study investigates the interests, institutions and incentives for improving the education quality. Findings suggest there was a stated commitment to educational quality on the part of the government across all levels. At the same time, the country’s decentralised system of governance has deconcentrated implementation responsibilities to local government and schools. Performance-based incentives at the local level focus on aspects of quality that are measurable — i.e., through the construction of classrooms and provision of materials — rather than on improving the capacity of the teaching workforce or tracking learning outcomes. The incentives and ideas that drive the behaviour of key actors in the education sector allow us to consider the degree to which state capacity and elite commitment can be sustained.
Working paper 63
Subhasish Dey and Kunal Sen
Do ruling parties positively discriminate in favour of their own constituencies in allocating public resources? If they do, do they gain electorally in engaging in such a practice? This paper tests whether partisan alignment exists in the allocation of funds for India’s largest social protection programme, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in the state of West Bengal, and whether incumbent local governments (village councils) gain electorally in the practice of partisan alignment. Using a quasi-experimental research design, we find that the village council-level ruling party spends significantly more in its own party constituencies than in opponent constituencies. We also find strong evidence of electoral rewards in the practice of partisan alignment. However, we find that the results differ between the two main ruling political parties at the village council level in the state.
This briefing presents research on the two newly created Indian states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, which have both have pursued mining activities as part of a broader emphasis on modernisation based on mega industries and development. While mining is important for economic growth, it raises questions of dispossession, environmental transformations which unfairly burden the poor, and acts of resistance. Using a political settlements approach, the research asks how these two states compare, not only in terms of facilitating mining, but also in dealing with its social costs, either through direct investments from mining royalties or through other welfare agendas.
Working paper 62
Robert Cameron and Brian Levy
The focus of this paper is on the management and governance of education at
provincial level – specifically on efforts to introduce performance management into
education by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), and their impact.
Post-1994 the WCED inherited a bureaucracy that was well placed to manage the
province’s large public education system. Subsequently, irrespective of which
political party has been in power, the WCED consistently has sought to implement
performance management. This paper explores to what extent determined, top-down
efforts, led by the public sector, can improve dismal educational performance.
The paper concludes that the WCED is (and long has been) a relatively well-run
public bureaucracy. However, the sustained, determined efforts to strengthen the
operation of the WCED’s bureaucracy have not translated into systematic
improvements in schools in poorer areas. One possible implication is that efforts to
strengthen hierarchy might usefully be complemented with additional effort to support
more horizontal, peer-to-peer governance at the school level.
Working paper 60
Robert Cameron and Vinothan Naidoo
This paper is one of a series of ESID studies that explore the extent to which the
performance of schools can be explained as an outcome of the interactions between,
on the one hand, the prevailing political dynamics and, on the other, the
characteristics of the prevailing institutional arrangements. The focus of this paper is
on the national performance tools in South Africa. When one looks at the
arrangements that have been put in place for managing public sector performance
since 1994 – across the public service as a whole and specifically within the
education sector – they are enormously impressive. But in general these efforts did
not translate into strong performance.
This paper explores the hypothesis that the answer to this puzzle can be found in the
disconnect between, on the one hand, the technocratic orientation of the
performance management systems which were introduced and, on the other, a
political environment characterised by strong contestation over policy amongst
competing stakeholders in the education sector. It is proposed that policies for
managing performance in basic education could best be explained as the outcome of
a strategic interaction among three sets of actors – technocratically-oriented public
officials in the bureaucracy, teacher labour unions (especially SADTU, as the
dominant union), and the ANC in its dual role as the top level of the public sector
hierarchy and as the primus inter pares within the ‘ruling alliance’. In practice, the
political strength of organised labour resulted in national policies which, beneath their
surface, fell well short of the aspiration of robust performance management.
Working paper 59
Roberto Riciutti, Antonio Savoia and Kunal Sen
A central aspect of institutional development in less developed economies is building tax systems capable of raising revenues from broad tax bases, i.e., fiscal capacity. While it is recognised in the literature that fiscal capacity is pivotal for state building and economic development, it is less clear what its origins are and what explains its cross-country differences. We focus on political institutions, seen as stronger systems of checks and balances on the executive. Exploiting a recent database on public sector performance in developing economies and an IV strategy, we identify their long-run impact and we ‘unpack’ the concept of fiscal capacity, distinguishing between the accountability and transparency of fiscal institutions (impartiality) and their effectiveness in extracting revenues. We find that stronger constraints on the executive foster the impartiality of tax systems. However, there is no robust evidence that they also improve its effectiveness. The impact of political institutions on the impartiality dimension works through the rule of law and the performance of the bureaucracy.
Working paper 58
Tim Kelsall, Sothy Khieng, Chuong Chantha and Tieng Tek Muy
This paper examines the quality of primary education provision in Cambodia using a ‘political settlements’ framework developed at the University of Manchester. The framework characterises Cambodia as a ‘hybrid’ settlement with a weak dominant party and predatory administration, albeit with some islands of administrative effectiveness. Such states can achieve developmental progress in circumscribed areas with multi-stakeholder support, but more wide-ranging, top-down reforms will normally disappoint. We use the framework retrospectively to explain the balance between quantity and quality in Cambodia’s education provision, and also prospectively to assess the prospects for reform. We conclude that, although new leadership in the education ministry promises to bring faster, deeper reform than ever before, powerful forces for inertia still exist. These forces could potentially be alleviated with enhanced international support, but development partners’ current ways of working leave much to be desired. The paper concludes by outlining a number of policy options.
Working paper 57
Pritish Behuria and Tom Goodfellow
This paper explores the political economy of growth in Rwanda during two decades of economic expansion under the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). It builds on recent work emphasising the importance of party-owned enterprises in sustaining this progress, but goes further by analysing state-business dynamics in four key sectors of the economy: coffee, mining, construction and financial services. For each sector, the evolution of the ‘deals environment’ (Pritchett and Werker 2012) is detailed and the differential degrees of growth, liberalisation and foreign competition are explained. This detailed sectoral analysis enables us to develop a deeper understanding of how political concerns have affected Rwanda’s economic growth trajectory. The paper argues that while the Pritchett-Werker framework is a helpful starting point, the ‘deals environment’ in Rwanda has not progressed along a linear trajectory from ‘closed disordered’ to ‘open ordered’ deals as posited in the model. Instead, the maintenance of growth has involved the cultivation of carefully protected pockets of ‘closed’ deals in strategic nodes of different sectors. Moreover, the combination of rapid economic liberalisation with politically motivated ‘closed’ deals has led to a degree of continued (or renewed) disorder in some sectors, which may yet threaten growth in the long term.
Working paper 56
Political settlements analysis has highlighted the role of powerful political and economic actors in shaping institutional outcomes across countries. Its focus on national elites, however, risks biasing this type of theorising towards local factors, when in fact many policy domains in developing countries have become transnationalised: much like private finance or transnational activism, foreign aid can play a significant role in shaping political settlements, for instance those underlying public finance management or basic service delivery. This paper has four aims. First, it revises the basic concept of political settlement with a combination of field theory and contentious politics that emphasises contestation between incumbents and challengers and the mechanisms through which they are affected by transnational forces. Second, based on this conceptual framework, it outlines six ideal types of aid influence over a developing-country political settlement, illustrating donor tendencies to support continuity or change. Third, it investigates the ethical implications of donor influence over political settlements, identifying the types of intervention favoured by consequentialist and non-consequentialist calculations. Finally, the paper presents the kernel for a practical ethic of assistance, which asks whether current debates in the aid community have fully come to terms with the responsibility that derives from agency in the contentious politics of inclusive development.