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Public Sector and Governance

How should a city administration respond to the shared cab phenomenon?

Shomik Mehndiratta's picture
Follow the authors on Twitter: @shomik_raj and @cataochoa
 
Smartphone apps are bringing massive changes to the taxi industry in ways that urban transport has not seen in a long while. From the US to China and Latin America (Bogota, Mexico), taxi alternative services have attained an impressive level of penetration in a short amount of time, often with great controversy. Indeed, many cities across the world are struggling with what to make of these services and how to regulate them.

While we have not been significantly involved with such services thus far, a recently appointed mobility secretary in a big Latin American city has asked us for support on developing an approach to the shared taxi industry, as part of a "Smart Mobility" strategy for the city. In that context, we wanted to start a conversation on optimal strategies for cities to be able to welcome and foster such innovations, while still capitalizing on the opportunity to create value for its citizens.

Time is Money, especially on Cairo’s Streets

Hartwig Schafer's picture
 Om Prakash Agarwal

When I told friends and colleagues that my new job would be based in Cairo, almost everyone mentioned the awful congestion in the city, and how I would be wasting a tremendous amount of time being stuck in traffic. And how right they were: When it comes to traffic, Cairo is one of the most congested cities in the world. Of course, the city’s residents already know congestion is one of the city’s biggest problems. What they probably don’t know is exactly how much it’s costing them.

Voices from Yemeni Civil Society

Web Team's picture
Civil society organizations in Yemen are among the most vibrant and dynamic in the Middle East and North Africa region. International experience has shown that they have a vital role to play in meeting the complex development challenges facing the country. One of the first steps is building a working partnership with the government. This selection of civil society voices outlines their approach to building that partnerships and meeting the challenges ahead.

President of the organization Fardos to empower women, Sameera Nasr Abdullah, addresses the value of having a space in which to build channels of communication with the government.
Sameera Nasr Abdullah

How can public procurement improve business opportunities for MENA SMEs?

Rachel Lipson's picture


Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are becoming more of a priority for policymakers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Seen as the driving force of many MENA economies, they help stimulate economic growth and encourage innovation and competition. They also play a huge role in creating more jobs in countries where these are urgently needed.

Development Assistance in Governance and Public Sector Management: Does It Ever Make a Big Difference?

Nick Manning's picture

Mother and boy being attended to by Health Education nurse

Are there examples of large scale development achievements which are likely attributable to development assistance? At the least there is the Marshall Plan (1948-1952), the “Green Revolution,” and global health programs which largely eradicated smallpox. At the country level, Korea, Taiwan, and Botswana are often cited as aid success stories with remarkable economic progress following significant aid infusions. So the summary answer is probably (and the answer might be more affirmative if we addressed the perennial problem of poor data collection). But if we apply the additional filter of “what did this have to do with assistance concerning governance and public sector management?” the answer is, at best, maybe.

Taking the example of the major public health advances supported by donors, advances in the measurement of health impacts in the early 2000s led to major costs savings and efficiencies in HIV/AIDS and malaria programs, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative had clear impact, the annual Human Development Reports have charted some truly outstanding areas of progress and there has been some, halting, progress towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.  However, it seems that few of these gains seem have deep roots in the improved performance of governments. Development assistance seems able to trigger improvements through standalone arrangements outside of the public sector and through logistical efforts to move material (pumps, vaccinations, and medical supplies). It does not seem to be so good at large scale governance and public sector management (GPSM) improvements.

In Photos: Monitoring Program Identifies Major Bottlenecks in Water and Sanitation Delivery in Central America

A regional initiative that assists governments in identifying funding gaps and prioritizing reforms is helping El Salvador, Honduras and Panama better meet their national goals for water and sanitation.

Photo credit: ANDA El Salvador

Beyond romance and nostalgia: A clear-eyed view of long term career-based incentives in the public sector

Nick Manning's picture

Teacher and studentsAs we argued in the previous post, the evidence on performance-related pay (PRP) is limited but generally supportive.   However, the evidence base for, or against, PRP is distinctively weak in relation to core civil service jobs outside of the OECD.   The conclusion of our recent report1 urges cautious experimentation, breaking out of the evidence-free certainties which have driven so many donor recommendations for reform. 

In some cases a more detailed empirical look will likely show that long term career-based incentives provide a better alternative to the short term motivation provided by PRP.  In complex public sector environments, with complex and occasionally contradictory objectives and multiple principals, there are arguments that incentives for performance should rely on information which is hard to game as it emerges over the longer term.2

Performance-related pay in the public sector: Experimentation with humility is an appropriate stance, given the state of the evidence

Nick Manning's picture

Pay Flexibility book coverA new publication on Pay Flexibility and Government Performance[1] finds that, in this area as in so many aspects of public sector management, practitioners are hampered by a lack of high quality evidence, particularly for PRP in core administrative public sector jobs.  The publication draws on a two sets of data: a review of the literature on Performance-Related Pay in the Public Sector[2] which disaggregates the available evidence by the different public sector contexts, the different types of public sector jobs, the quality of the empirical study, and the economic context; and case studies of PRP in emerging market and OECD countries, which included large perception surveys of government officials.

A related article in the World Bank Research Observer notes that this has not limited the remarkable certainty which opponents and proponents of PRP adopt concerning recommendations for reform.  Opponents march behind populist banners such as that provided by Pink[3], appealing to the idea that monetary and other extrinsic incentives are both counterproductive (because they frequently undermine intrinsic incentives) and unnecessary (because intrinsic incentives can be harnessed and used to maximize individual productivity).

Transit-oriented development — What does it take to get it right?

Chyi-Yun Huang's picture
Follow the authors on Twitter: @chyiyunhuang and @shomik_raj
 
A recent trip to Addis Ababa really brought the imperatives of transit-oriented development as a complement to mass transit investments home to us. As a strategic response to rapid urbanization and growing motorization rates, Addis is one of several African cities currently developing public mass transit systems such as light rail and bus-rapid transit. Similar initiatives are budding in Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and other cities in South Africa.

It is well known that transit-oriented development, or ToD, is a high-value complement to mass transit development. Compact, mixed-use, high density development around key mass transit stations can have the dual benefits of creating a ridership base that enhances the economic and financial viability of the mass transit investment and compounding the accessibility benefits a mass transit system can bring to a city’s residents. This is not to mention the intrinsic value in creating vibrant social gathering places for communities at strategic locations.

How can we measure state capacity? Do you start upstream or downstream?

Nick Manning's picture

About a year ago, Frank Fukuyama released an article entitled “What is governance?” in the Governance journal that became an “instant classic” in the field. Within a month it had elicited over 15 responses from prominent scholars on the Governance blog, not to mention commentary posted elsewhere—including this blog. It already has over 40 google citations, including articles in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. And a month ago, Governance journal published two more commentaries on Fukuyama’s original article (by Robert Rotberg and Craig Boardman), reinvigorating the debate.


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