Syndicate content

Recent comments

  • Reply to: World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law: Share your comments with us   6 days 5 hours ago
    Two cheers for the 2017 Governance and the Law World Development Report

    The 2017 WDR (made available last week in draft form as an ‘almost-final’ public preview) is a landmark document for the development community.
    Historically, the point of departure for development practitioners (including those within the World Bank) has been to promulgate technocratic, ‘best practice’ solutions to development challenges. For more than two decades, this ‘best practice’ approach has been put into question by a growing avalanche of research on the political, institutional and governance underpinnings of development. The 2017 WDR does an heroic job of assembling and synthesizing this voluminous research into a compelling statement of why ‘best practices’ fail to address some core constraints, and thus do not achieve their intended results.

    WHY TWO CHEERS? HERE IS A LINK TO THE COMPLETE COMMENT (which appears as a blog post at
  • Reply to: World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law: Share your comments with us   1 week 1 day ago

    Given time constraints, I will just give a brief comment on behalf of Accountability Lab that, in the section on "Citizens as Agents of Change", we would like to see mention of how youth participation is creating new avenues for citizen engagement. In Pakistan, we have seen young people use Twitter to hold education officials accountable for service delivery commitments. In Liberia, we have seen government officials have interactive discussions about young people's concerns at accountability-themed film screenings. As governments open up more innovative spaces to channel youth creativity and activism into positive engagement in the governance process, can develop new ways to enhance the governance process beyond standard social accountability tools. We appreciate the Bank's open, collaborative approach to accepting feedback throughout the development of this report, and we can give more in-depth comments at a later stage.

  • Reply to: World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law: Share your comments with us   1 week 2 days ago

    On behalf of the DAI Governance Technical Team:

    We welcome the focus on Governance and particularly the emphasis on the role of power and elite bargaining - a factor that is critical but that much of the recent thinking hasn’t been very explicit about.

    Overall, the report’s emphasis was on governance; “The Law” seems to be barely covered. There is a vast amount of both literature and practical examples of what “the law” means in the context we work in, how it is bargained, how it shapes behaviour and is shaped by behaviour, and in turn the link between “the law” and power (im)balances. The report has said little about “the law” and the interface with justice and what this practically means for “driving change”. Particularly in the context of today’s politics, and the amount of conflict and fragility many countries are affected by, and the amount of countries that are recovering from or transitioning out of conflict, some more emphasis seems relevant. To take this a step further, there is a question around the correlation between the law and stability, growth and equity that is not covered.

    In fact, the quotes on page 34 (para 0.78) sums this up quite nicely "think the role of law, not only the rule of law". It would be good to see more of this.

    If the title of the report is to remain as it is – it would be good to see these two topics and their interrelatedness covered more comprehensively.

    Power and political settlements: Impact on Security, Growth and Equity. Commitment, Coordination and Cooperation are critical for making policies effective – Yes, absolutely. But Effective for whom? This is where the power linkage comes in, but the report then seems to stop there.

    It is quite clear on how important it is to understand the power asymmetries. What this section doesn’t capture, however, is what this really means for growth, stability and equity. Yes, inclusive political settlements are necessary for stability, growth and equity – but often these are mutually exclusive.

    What has happened in a number of cases is that inclusive and stable political settlements have indeed led to economic growth and stability, but have, often by the same measure, undermined socially inclusive policies or policies of redistribution (i.e. equity). This is especially the case in many of the so-called success stories (such as Botswana, just to use one example).

    Legitimacy is Trust: “Outcome legitimacy is related to trust…” (footnote 14). Legitimacy is critical for policy effectiveness and trust is indeed critical for legitimacy. But this seems to assume that trust is given on the basis of rationality, rather than personal factors and underlying incentives. So trust will lead to legitimacy but legitimacy of what? Not necessarily “good” policy outcomes (the Brexit would be a prime example of this). How can the analysis link legitimacy clearer to power dynamics and representation of wants or needs? And what does this mean for development practitioners?

    Entry Points: Page 15: “… to consider how the policy arena can be reshaped…” – Given the complex power dynamics, we can only assume that we can look for ways of reshaping the environment we work in, but realistically must also find ways of driving incremental change within the existing policy arena. Practical steps seem to be missing out here.

    Drivers of Change: Elites, Citizen, International – This conceptualisation of drivers of change seems to be excluding critical players and organised constituencies. For example, civil society, unions, the media, research organisations, the private sector, and others, all of which can play a critical role in driving change.

  • Reply to: World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law: Share your comments with us   1 week 2 days ago
    The World Development Report – Our comments on latest overview - Global Integrity

    1. We welcome the focus of the WDR for 2017 (overview here, full report here) on governance and the law, and the clear acknowledgement that politics is central to development. There is huge value in having the World Bank’s flagship report lead with this message.

    2. However – as we argued in our July 26th blogpost – the WDR can and should do much more than restate that politics matters. The revised overview goes further in this direction, but we feel that the WDR could and should go further still in exploring the potential of politically-engaged adaptive learning, and adaptive programming, to address the political dynamics that are a key factor in creating the implementation gaps that para 0.2 of the WDR Overview notes.

    3. Going further in this direction would also – as we began to outline in our July 13th blogpost – help to build a bridge towards the operationalization of the thinking in the WDR, and offer a response to the question recently posed by Stuti Khemani and Shanta Devarajan: “If politics is the problem, how can external actors be part of the solution”.

    4. We welcome the emphasis on implementation gaps (para 0.2), best-fit rather than best practice (paras 0.11 and 0.31) and function more than form (para 0.12 and on). The World Bank and others have huge experience on trying to support governance reform using a best-practice model that often replicates forms while failing to deliver on functions. The shift of emphasis signalled by the WDR Overview is therefore very encouraging.

    5. We appreciate the changes that have been made to the overview since the yellow version of the WDR, providing some additional conceptual clarity. For instance, we appreciate the useful additional clarity on commitment, coordination, cooperation.

    6. In para 0.19, the first two sentences are confused/confusing. Policies appear twice. Are they the same policies or different? Is policy the dependent or independent variable? Or both?

    7. Overall, the overview has many dimensions/concepts, with sub-categories for each: drivers of effectiveness (x3); power asymmetries (x3); levers (x3); entry points (x3, we think); drivers of change (x3). It’s easy to lose the thread of the narrative. Box 0.11 helps a bit, but many readers may have lost the plot by that stage. Improving the box, and making use of it at an earlier stage, might help.

    8. We welcome the inclusion of material from Stuti Khemani and Shanta Devarajan’s recent work on political engagement (e.g. paras 0.65 and 0.66), but feel that it could be better integrated with the overall framework on fulfilling key governance functions, to address implementation gaps.

    9. We very much welcome the inclusion of paras on adaptive programming (paras 0.74 and 0.75) and creating the conditions for adaptability (paras 0.84/85/86)

    10. We welcome the section on “rethinking governance for development” (paras 0.76 and on) and the attempt to set out what the “new” principles mean in practice. But we feel that it needs additional work; at the moment it doesn’t give the reader a strong sense of what the Bank would actually do/support.

    11. There seems to be some duplication between “navigating this report” and “rethinking governance for development”, with “creating conditions for adaptability” sandwiched in the middle but not properly integrated.

    12. We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional input into the WDR process. We recognize that producing a WDR on governance, that satisfies a diverse audience, in a flagship publication for an institution that is wary about politics, is a huge challenge. We look forward to being part of the conversation, including around operationalizing the WDR through a stronger focus on politically-engaged adaptive learning, in the coming months.
  • Reply to: World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law: Share your comments with us   1 week 2 days ago
    WDR Comments:

    Given the very short turn-around time for comments, I will focus only on two issues:

    1. Systems rather than linear process: While, as a practitioner-researcher, I am happy to see a section on “what does the WDR mean for action”, I am unsure about the practical usefulness of it in its current form. In my view, the use of a linear model (policy process) somewhat simplifies the complex interrelationships among governance actors on a given policy and doesn’t do justice to the thrust of the WDR which highlights these complexities (see also Root/Jones/Wild 2015). In my view, a “system approach”, paying attention to the overall political economy, would be a more just representation of the main arguments in the WDR. While I am not an expert in this area, I would look into the debate on doing development differently, thinking and acting politically to identify potential visual models to represent this complexity.

    2. Spotlight on corruption: The section on explaining why corruption is pervasive could be shortened and more focus could be placed on the section “what can be done”. While I agree with the mantra of a contextual approach, the discussion could probably go further. In particular, the short list of strategies (S.10) could be expanded and deepened. Here are some points to consider: - Indirect approach to fighting corruption: As you write, fighting corruption requires increasing the accountability and contestability of elites. Research shows that, to achieve this, ensuring basic civil rights and freedoms (incl freedom of information and expression) are particularly relevant – (see Mungiu-Pippidi, The Quest for Good Governance; Themudo 2013) - Enforcement & sanctioning – There is a growing realization among anti-corruption researchers about the relevance of “enforcement approaches” to corruption, i.e. ending impunity for corruption by more effective sanctioning (e.g. della Porta/Vanucci 2016, Peiffer/Marquette). Studies show for example its positive signalling effects on the electoral behaviour of citizens (e.g. Ferraz/Finan 2008, Sulitzeanu-Kenan et al 2016). You mention the case of CICIG in Guatemala in passing. In my view, the anti-corruption strategy of “prosecution & sanctioning” and the signalling effects it can have to break the collective action problem of corruption deserves to be mentioned more prominently though. There are also a number of supportive strategies to increase law enforcement on corruption, such as whistleblowing legislation and effective reporting channels.