Researching the politics of development

Pockets of Effectiveness

  • Pockets of effectiveness are public organisations that function effectively in providing public goods and services, despite operating in an environment where effective public service delivery is not the norm.

    History suggests that pockets of effectiveness have proved critical to developmental state success in the global south.

    Pockets of effectiveness are an emerging subfield of governance research. However, it has lacked a comparative study which systematically identifies: how pockets of effectiveness emerge and are sustained in different contexts and sectors; and the role that domestic and international actors can play in this.

    Our research has sought to understand the political and bureacratic logics that shape the emergence and performance of pockets of effectiveness.

    Our research questions were:

    1. How do pockets of effectiveness emerge and how are they sustained within different types of context and sector?

    2. What role has been and could be played by domestic and international actors in support of this?

    We focused on pockets of effectiveness in five countries in Sub Saharan Africa – Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Kenya.

    This project has been led by Professor Sam Hickey, The University of Manchester in collaboration with Professor Giles Mohan of The Open University. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.