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World Development Report 2017

Governance and the Law


Main Messages

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:
    1. Think not only about the form of institutions, but also about their functions.
    2. Think not only about capacity building, but also about power asymmetries.
    3. Think not only about the rule of law, but also about the role of law.

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In Depth



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Part I: Rethinking governance for development: A conceptual framework                               


Chapter 1: Governance for development: The challenges

Chapter 2: Enhancing governance for development: Why policies fail

Spotlight 1: Corruption

Spotlight 2: The governance challenges of managing risks

Chapter 3: The role of law

Spotlight 3: How do effective and equitable legal institutions emerg


Part II: Governance for development                                                                                                    


Chapter 4: Governance for security

Spotlight 4: Wartime governance

Spotlight 5: Crime

Chapter 5: Governance for growth

Spotlight 6: The middle-income trap

Spotlight 7: Public-private partnerships

Chapter 6: Governance for equity

Spotlight 8: Service delivery: Education and health


Part III: Drivers of change                                                                                                                     


Chapter 7: Elite bargaining and adaptation

Spotlight 9: Decentralization

Spotlight 10: Public service reform

Chapter 8: Citizens as agents of change

Spotlight 11: From transparency to accountability through citizen engagement

Spotlight 12: The media

Chapter 9: Governance in an interconnected world

Spotlight 13: Illicit financial flows

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