Enabling environment: Key resources


Editor’s Choice

Madrid Conference Paper on Incentive Systems

It is possible to distinguish factors that have motivational effects from other capacity elements. Some are internal, others are external to or “in the environment” of any given system. The question of motivation is inextricably linked with capacity and needs to be analyzed and addressed on all capacity levels: individual, organization and enabling environment.

Case Evidence on 'Ethics and Values in Civil Service Reforms

This action brief focuses on ways in which ethics and values are promoted in the public service. Three broad approaches – economic, legal, and behavioural – are presented as entry points for effective intervention. The brief examines the role of codes of conduct, education and training and mentoring in enhancing ethical conduct in civil service reform initiatives in a range of countries.

Orrnert, A., and Hewitt, T., 2007, 'Elites and Institutions: A Literature Review'

Exploring elites and their relationship to institutions can enhance the understanding of politics in Africa. This literature review by the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC) summarises current knowledge of how elites work with and through political institutions. It focuses on the large volume of literature published in the last five to ten years on Anglophone Africa, highlighting a number of gaps in the research.

Understanding State-Building from a Political Economy Perspective.  Verena Fritz , Alina Rocha Menocal  2007

The need to build capable and accountable states has emerged as a leading priority for the international development community. This paper seeks to contribute to a more conceptually informed understanding of state-building, adopting a political economy perspective.

Is Political Analysis Changing Donor Behaviour?  Sue Unsworth  2008

Research increasingly emphasises that what works in development depends on country-specific realities and opportunities. Donors need to recognise that politics is central to the development process so that they make the necessary investment in understanding local political dynamics. This paper from the 2008 Development Studies Association Conference finds that while political analysis is influencing specific aspects of donor activity, its impact is fragmented and donors’ default position remains technocratic. Strong, visionary leadership is needed to enable donors to make major changes in their thinking, organisation and culture.

The Politics of Successful Governance Reforms: Lessons of Design and Implementation  Mark Robinson  2007

What political and institutional factors contribute to successful governance reforms? This article from Commonwealth and Comparative Politics compares reforms in Brazil, India and Uganda. It finds that successful reforms require a combination of political commitment, technical capacity and gradual implementation. Donors can support governance improvement most effectively by working with reform-oriented politicians and bureaucrats in contexts where reform is politically feasible to increase incentives for the changes

Good Practice / Case Materials

Case Evidence on 'Brain Gain'

The brief presents case evidence on 'brain gain' as a capacity development response in the context of institutional reform and incentives. It focuses on the main characteristics of existing brain gain initiatives, the challenges faced, and some of the lessons learned from a select number of country practices.

Power Analysis - Experiences and Challenges Helena Bjuremalm 2006

Power analysis can help donors understand underlying structural factors impeding poverty reduction as well as incentives and disincentives for pro-poor development. Such analysis may point to i.a. why resources and authority are not transferred to lower levels of government in spite of decentralisation reforms, why women are not allowed to inherit land, and why poor people's human rights, in particular, tend to be neglected - and what could be done about such expressions of politics of poverty.

Making the New Political Economy Perspective more operationally relevant for development agencies G. Williams, A. Duncan, P. Landell-Mills 2007

How can donors more effectively put into practice the principles of the New Political Economy Perspective (NPEP)? This policy brief from The Policy Practice addresses questions of donor legitimacy, underlying principles, and aid programming in relation to this new analytical tool. Rather then seeking to influence governments directly, donors should help to strengthen the accountability of governments to their own citizens. Donors therefore need to address the system of incentives and restraints that affects key change agents.

Survey of Donor Approaches to Governance Assessment OECD 2008

Many development agencies are engaged in assessing governance. What are their approaches and how can these be more effectively harmonised? This study from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development surveys donors' use of general and thematic governance assessments. Most approaches are driven by policy dialogue, detailed planning of governance enhancement activities and strategic decisions regarding aid to specific countries. Linkage to a donor's programme, demand from the field and removal of institutional disincentives are important in determining how governance assessments are used.

Managing for Development Results - SourceBook

Managing for development results (MfDR) requires leadership to set and achieve goals. More specifically, a serious MfDR process requires committed individuals willing to spend political capital to reform entrenched systems, shape a shared vision of the future, and improve government performance. These are not flashy causes, and they take time to accomplish. They require leaders with the integrity to persist in the face of challenges. The Third Edition of the Sourcebook on Emerging Good Practice in Managing for Development Results is one of the products of the OECD-DAC Joint Venture on Managing for Development Results. The Joint Venture is a group of partner country representatives and bilateral and multilateral donors working together to exchange ideas on global trends in managing for development results (MfDR).

Governance Indicators – A User’s Guide

The guide is written in two parts. The first part provides generic guidance for users of indicators, illustrated with specific examples from the governance arena. The second part of the publication is a source guide, which takes the reader through some specifics about the currently available data sources, including a snapshot of their methodology, some example data, their contact information and the important assumptions underlying the particular source.

Useful Web-sites and partners

GSDRC Topic Guide on Political Systems

This guide considers some of the key questions about how political systems evolve, how they can best foster democratic and inclusive politics, and - crucially for development practitioners - under what conditions they most effectively promote poverty reduction. It focuses on strengthening the accountability, responsiveness and effectiveness of political systems and political governance, and includes guidance and case study materials.

GSDRC Topic Guide on Political Economy Analysis

This topic guide provides pointers to some of the key literature on donor approaches to political economy analysis and its effectiveness in different contexts. It includes examples of analyses and tools applied at country, sector and programme level.

GSDRC Topic Guide on Civil Service Reform

This topic guide outlines the issues currently facing reform efforts and introduces the key technical aspects of CSR.

World Bank's (WB) Adminstrative and Civil Service Reform website

Provides access to some of the key discussions in the field of public administration. The WB site also lists governments’ own websites

UNDP Public Administration Reform and Anti-Corruption site

Provides practice notes, guidelines and toolkits to support efficient, responsive and transparent public service.

Other knowledge resources

Hyden, G., 2008, ‘Institutions, Power and Policy Outcomes in Africa’, Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP), Discussion Paper No. 2, Overseas Development Institute, London

In Africa, as elsewhere, the paths to development are dependent on historical institutional context, and cannot be imposed from outside. This paper, from the Africa Power and Politics Programme, argues that in African states informal institutions dominate power relations but are not understood, and so development policies lack any real traction. A model of how formal and informal institutions interact is proposed and linked to an analysis of power itself – its basis, reach, exercise, nature and consequences. This shows that conventional models of development planning cannot work in Africa, where the production and distribution of ‘public goods’ are highly politicised and personalised. (source:GSRDC)

Robinson, M., 2006, 'The Political Economy of Governance Reforms in Uganda', IDS Discussion Paper,  May, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton.

What political and institutional factors explain the different trajectories of governance reforms in Uganda? This discussion paper from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) surveys three governance reforms in Uganda in the 1990s. The Ugandan experience highlights the difficulty of sustaining successful reforms over the long term in a context of patrimonialism and personal rule (source:GSRDC)

McCourt, W., 2007b, 'The Merit System and Integrity in the Public Service', Paper presented at Conference on Public Integrity and Anticorruption in the Public Service, 29-30 May, Bucharest.

How can governments ensure that public appointments are fair, transparent and challengeable? This paper presented at the Conference on Public Integrity and Anticorruption in the Public Service explores issues of merit and integrity in the public service. To advance merit, governments should establish a sound institutional framework and upgrade appointment methods.

Kiragu, K. and Mukandala, R., 2003, 'Tactics, Sequencing, and Politics of Public Service Pay Policies in Developing and Middle Income Countries: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa',  Draft report to DFID, World Bank, Africa Region, Public Service Reform and Capacity Building Unit, Washington

How does politics affect public service pay reform? What approaches can increase the prospect of success for pay reform in developing countries? This study for DFID and the World Bank Africa Region Public Service Reform and Capacity Building Unit analyses pay reform strategies since 1990 in eight African countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. There is no model approach to pay reform. Technical solutions must pay attention to political context. (source:GSRDC)

Market for African Development Management Professionals

The flight of highly skilled African professionals to the industrialized countries of the West is one of the major development constraints of most African countries. Both the public and private sectors of these countries are suffering from the flight of human capital, as their best and brightest professionals migrate, a large number of whom hardly return to their countries of origin.