Ineffective policies can persist, while potentially effective policies are often not adopted. The World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law explores why some policies fail to achieve desired outcomes and what makes other policies work. The main messages of the WDR 2017 are:
- Successful reforms are not just about “best practice.” To be effective, policies must guarantee credible commitment, support coordination, and promote cooperation.
- Power asymmetries can undermine policy effectiveness. The unequal distribution of power in the policy arena can lead to exclusion, capture, and clientelism.
- Change is possible. Elites, citizens, and international actors can promote change by shifting incentives, reshaping preferences and beliefs, and enhancing the contestability of the decision making process.
- Three guiding principles for rethinking governance for development are:
- Think not only about the form of institutions, but also about their functions.
- Think not only about capacity building, but also about power asymmetries.
- Think not only about the rule of law, but also about the role of law.