The Big Stuck in State Capability for Policy Implementation
Matt Andrews (Harvard Kennedy School), Lant Pritchett (Harvard Kennedy School), and Michael Woolcock (World Bank)
We divide the 102 historically developing countries (HDCs) into those with ‘very weak’, ‘weak’, ‘middle’, and ‘strong’ state capability. Analyzing the levels and recent growth rates of the HDCs’ capability for policy implementation reveals how pervasively “stuck” most of them are. Only eight HDCs have attained strong capability, and since most of these are small (e.g., Singapore, UAE), less than 100 million (or 1.7%) of the roughly 5.8 billion people in HDCs currently live in high capability states.
Building Capability by Delivering Results: Putting Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) Principles into Practice
(From: Alan Whaites, Eduardo Gonzales, Sara Fyson and Graham Teskey (eds.) “A Governance Practitioner’s Notebook: Alternative Ideas and Approaches”. Paris. OECD)
Matt Andrews (Harvard Kennedy School), Lant Pritchett (Harvard Kennedy School), Salimah Sanji (Harvard Kennedy School), and Michael Woolcock (World Bank)
The PDIA approach argues that we don’t need more “experts” selling “best practice” solutions in the name of efficiency and the adoption of global standards; we need instead organisations that generate, test and refine context-specific solutions in response to locally nominated and prioritised problems; we need systems that tolerate (even encourage) failure as the necessary price of success.
Detours, Dead-Ends and Diversions: Singapore’s Road to Development Reconsidered
Nigel Goh (UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence)
Simple models and catchy tag lines are compelling and attractive. For many, Singapore’s development success is explained by “Dream, Design, Deliver” – far-sighted vision, good plans to achieve the vision and determined implementation of those plans. This booklet argues that at least four additional factors have contributed to Singapore’s success: action orientation, the ability to experiment, the capacity and inclination to change tack when faced with failure or opportunity, and the determination to prevent politically influential vested interests forming around inefficient or ineffective policies.
How China Escaped the Poverty Trap
Yuen Yuen Ang (University of Michigan)
How China Escaped the Poverty Trap tackles a long-standing, chicken-and-egg problem in development: Is it strong institutions of governance that leads to economic growth or vice versa? Yuen Yuen Ang reveals that this debate is false. In fact, development unfolds in a three-step coevolutionary sequence: harness weak institutions to build markets > emerging markets stimulate strong institutions > strong institutions preserve markets. She illustrates this argument using rich field evidence from different locales in China. Coevolutionary sequences unfold at variant speeds across China, as geographic conditions and temporal opportunities interact with the development strategies of local state and market actors.
Ending Poverty: What Should We Learn and Not Learn from China?
A post by Yuen Yuen Ang at the Future Development blog, Brookings Institution.
Beyond Weber: Conceptualizing an Alternative Ideal Type of Bureaucracy in Developing Contexts (supplemental material)
Yuen Yuen Ang (University of Michigan)
The study of public administration in developing countries requires that we look beyond the Weberian model as the only ideal type of bureaucracy. When we assume that there exists only one gold standard of public administration, all other organizational forms that do not conform to the Weberian ideal are dismissed as corrupt or failed. Drawing on neo-institutional economics, I introduce an alternative ideal type of bureaucracy found in contemporary China. This model, which I call bureau-franchising, combines the hierarchical structure of bureaucracy with the high-powered incentives of franchising. In this system, public agencies can rightfully claim a share of income earned to finance and reward themselves, like entrepreneurial franchisees. Yet distinct from lawless corruption, this self-financing (or prebendal) behavior is sanctioned and even deliberately incentivized by state rules. Although such a model violates several Weberian tenets of “good” bureaucracy, it harnesses and regulates the high-powered incentives of prebendalism to ameliorate budgetary and capacity constraints that are common in developing countries like China.
The Impact of Education Programmes on Learning and School Participation in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Birte Snilstveit (International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)), Jennifer Stevenson (3ie), Radhika Menon (3ie), Daniel Phillips (3ie), Emma Gallagher (3ie), Maisie Geleen (Maxwell Stamp), Hannah Jobse (Independent Consultant), Tanja Schmidt (Independent Consultant), and Emmanuel Jimenez (3ie)
We synthesised evidence from 216 programmes reaching 16 million children across 52 low- and middle-income countries. The results demonstrate there are no ‘magic bullets’ to ensure high-quality education for all, but there are lessons to be learned for improving future education programmes.
The Post Office Paradox: A Case Study of the Block Level Education Bureaucracy
Yamini Aiyar (Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi), and Shrayana Bhattacharya (World Bank)
Elementary education administrators at the block level primarily perceive themselves, or report themselves to be, disempowered cogs in a hierarchical administrative culture that renders them powerless. They refer to their own roles and offices as “post offices,” used simply for doing the bidding of higher authorities and ferrying messages between the top and bottom of the education chain. Using the case of education delivery, this paper attempts to probe an administrator’s perspective in resolving the implementation problem at the last mile and is based on detailed primary fieldwork in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh along with some quantitative surveys conducted in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. It endeavours to trace the “cognitive maps” of administrators by capturing how last mile public servants see themselves and their jobs, and how notions of job performance are internalized and interpreted within the administrative context of elementary education in India.