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Assessing the evidence of the impact of governance on development outcomes and poverty reduction

Early, Lucy and Scott, Zoe (2010) Assessing the evidence of the impact of governance on development outcomes and poverty reduction. Technical Report. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

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This paper synthesises academic and donor research on the impact of governance work on poverty reduction and development outcomes. There is a large body of work on the critical importance of good governance in developing countries which argues that good governance has both intrinsic and instrumental developmental value. Our introduction charts the historical emergence of ‘the good governance agenda’ from the early 1990s to the present day, through narrow technical understandings of governance reform, to the concept of ‘good enough governance’, and on to current wider emphases on political economy approaches to governance.

The literature presents a mixed picture, showing that governance reforms have not always resulted in the expected improvements in development outcomes and poverty reduction. This is often argued to be because the success of governance reforms is often conditional on political factors. Other clear messages from the research are that bad governance impacts negatively on the poor and institutions matter for growth and poverty reduction. Policy implications from the research are that donors must take a long-term perspective as change to governance institutions takes place over long time horizons. Donors should also give more attention to the demand-side of governance, rather than focusing exclusively on top-down approaches to reform, as results have often been promising where citizens have been brought into governance interventions.

Type of Work:Monograph (Technical Report)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Number of Pages:52
Department:Governance and Social Development Resource Centre , International Development Department

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Date:March 2010
Projects:Governance and Social Development Resource Centre
Series/Collection Name:GSDRC Emerging Issues Papers
Keywords:Governance, Development, Poverty Reduction
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Related URLs:
Funders:Department for International Development
Copyright Holders:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1517

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