When trust in governments around the world is at a historic low, and a myriad of challenges continue to overwhelm leaders, it’s imperative for government agencies to revamp their strategic communications approach.
Whether it is during a natural disaster or a policy consultation process, citizens expect honest and useful communications from their government agencies. This expectation isn’t misplaced, as they now live in a world where mobile phones and the Internet are ubiquitous.
Governments often succeed or fail because of the way they communicate their vision, mission and policy objectives with the wider citizenry. in the way they communicate and engage with citizens.
The decreasing price of technology such as
Recently, when the devastating earthquake hit Nepal, Nepalis inside and outside the country wanted actionable information as soon as possible. Many of them were talking about the devastation even before the government’s initial statement. Twitter and Facebook are popular in Nepal and people were using the platforms to talk about damage and rescue.
As a Nepali citizen, I know my government has yet to be digitally savvy. Thankfully, the government launched a Twitter account to share the latest devastation numbers and information about rescue operation. It was a strategic use of the tool in a time of crisis.
When Shakespeare posed this question (or something like that) in 1603 he would not have guessed that the President of the World Bank would commit to the ‘science of delivery’ or that many countries we work with would be asking the same question. But they are.
In the technical note When Might the Introduction of a Delivery Unit Be the Right Intervention (pdf) we outlined some of the issues to consider in answering this question. Since then I’ve had the privilege to work with the World Bank colleagues, and others, mobilizing new Delivery Units and for me the tension between strategy/policy and implementation has come into sharper relief. So this piece is to explore a further question: when a country asks for help with delivery, do they (and we) really want assistance with strengthening their strategy and/or policy capacity?
In the technical note, we argued that the innovation of a Delivery Unit is fundamentally about changing the culture of a government to one that is focused on results and improving the way the government gets better results quicker. We also argued that the skills of working in a Delivery Unit are different than those of policy development.
When it comes to engagement in the fight against corruption, developing country governments span a wide range. Some are willing to investigate and prosecute corruption; others are more reluctant.
Some can count on a well-organized and responsive civil service; others cannot. In short, from the perspective of intergovernmental organizations interested in combatting corruption, some governments are better partners than others.
For those states unable or unwilling to be strong allies in the fight against corruption in World Bank projects, efforts must be channeled through actors other than the government. And since corrupt transactions—like a tango (it takes two) —there is always an alternative actor to address: the private sector.
‘Collective governance’ is neither the next buzz word with which to spice up our development discourse nor an attempt by development practitioners to replace traditional governments with some ‘collective’ form of it. Yet it is increasingly central to our work and to helping our clients achieve results.
This was echoed in the discussion at the World Bank last month of the new book Beyond Governments: Making Collective Governance Work, by Jonas Moberg and Eddie Rich, drawing on the lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Collective (sometimes ‘collaborative’) governance is an innovative model of governance that is solutions-oriented with a focus on public value, where diverse stakeholders can work in partnership to improve the management of public resources and delivery of services.
An important way in which collective governance is being manifested is in so called multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) that bring together government, civil society, and the private sector to address complex development challenges that no one party alone has the capacity, resources, and know-how to do so more effectively. In so doing, MSIs come to complement and not usurp the role of governments in achieving these ends.