There are several issues that I would like to comment on regarding the emerging WBG Public Sector Management (PSM) approach and point out the synergies between the OECD approach and the PSM one.
A great deal of the debate about strategies for public management reform in the developing and emerging economies of the world reminds me of debates in the Marxist movement at the start of the 20th century about whether or not countries had to go through certain “stages” of development.
The World Bank is updating its approach to public sector management. The aim is better World Bank support for governments seeking to improve public sector results: results needed for citizens' today through improved health, education, agriculture and transport services; and the less obvious but equally critical results such as fiscal stability which maximize the prospects that those results will still be delivered tomorrow.
In this period of fiscal crisis and tightening of public expenditure budgets, it is especially interesting to look at the extent to which public expenditures are wasted.
During his inauguration speech last December, newly-elect President Alpha Condé of Guinea Conakry declared “La Guinee est de retour! (Guinea is Back!).” A lot can be said in response to the question “back from where?” A short answer, though, would be “back from a tortuous and checkered five decades of post independence misrule”.
Child malnutrition may not be apparent to parents, especially if other children in the village look the same. Similarly, it can be hard for parents to recognize when their children are doing poorly in school. And – sad, but true – badly trained health staff and teachers too often miss these things, as well. Fixing this disconnect in perceptions may be one way improve health and education outcomes.
A few weeks ago, I delivered the convocation lecture at the Federal University for Technology in Owerri on the theme,“Nigeria’s youth: Turning challenge into opportunity”. While preparing for the lecture, I pulled up some numbers. Some of them really startled me.
I'm spending a few months based in South Africa – so it's been principally through the lens of that country's vibrant newspapers that I have been viewing the Arab spring, watching as a seemingly frozen authoritarian political order undergoes a thaw.
We like to think of doctors and teachers as knights in shining armor, focused purely on our well-being, without regard for profit or other personal interests. The reality, we know, is more complicated. Doctors, teachers, and even World Bankers, are motivated by a range of internal and external factors, from altruism through to self-interest.
The technocratic (and ideological) ‘best practice’ approach to development intervention is indeed bankrupt. The world badly needs more imaginative and effective ways of engaging with the stubborn realities of governance in poor developing countries. As Brian Levy has argued, ‘working with the grain in a way that takes institutions and politics into account’ is the right approach. And a typology of realistic governance reform approaches is a good place to start.