The number of governance reform processes in which communication plays a role appears to be vast. Which of these are of vital importance? How exactly can communication help? And what does research have to tell us? A new volume of edited work offers one set of answers to such questions. Governance Reform Under Real World Conditions: Citizens, Stakeholders, and Voice is a project of the Communication for Governance & Accountability Program (CommGAP).
The book represents CommGAP’s initial work in attempting to scope six major challenges to governance reform that can be addressed through communication. Each of six sections in the book addresses one of these: using political analysis to guide communication strategy, securing political will, gaining the support of middle managers building pro-reform coalitions, turning public opinion in favor of reforms, and instigating citizen demand for good governance and accountability. (Disclosure: I am co-editor of the volume.)
Chapters include both academic and experience-based contributions. The theoretical contributions indicate the depth of scholarship backing up field-based knowledge. These include treatments of big picture theory such as theory of the public sphere and its relationship to good governance. They also cover theories of more limited scope that can help guide project development and evaluation including theories of agenda setting, framing, appreciative inquiry, deliberation, and networks. The practical contributions provide field-based context to the theory, including analyses from leading consultants, development experts, and public officials. The book also includes a section of cases studies illustrating reform challenges and communication approaches to meeting them, including reports from Nicaragua, India, China, the Philippines and others. A summary chapter distills communication tools and techniques for dealing with obstacles to governance reform initiatives on the ground.
The work is not intended to be definitive. But we hope it will serve to advance post-technocratic, communication-based approaches to governance reform in the field, across donor agencies, and among academics.