What’s behind the demand for governance

Type Working Paper
Title What’s behind the demand for governance
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/8837.pdf
As a growing body of research suggests, governance processes and institutional dynamics matter for
development. The observation that wealthier countries (with the exception of some oil-rich states) tend
to have better governance across a range of dimensions and are more democratic than poorer ones is
incontestable and has endured the test of time (Fritz 2008; Rocha Menocal, 2013a). Daron Acemoglu
and James Robinson’s (2012) analysis of Why Nations Fail, for instance, finds that institutions and the
quality of governance are the critical hinge separating prosperous states like South Korea from
stagnating ones like its neighbour to the north. But while effective and legitimate institutions are an
integral part of most successful countries and economies these days, how they got there is less clear
– and what institutions matter most, when and why, remains an open question (Rocha Menocal,
This puzzle has placed governance at the core of the international development agenda, as reflected
in ongoing debates around what a post-2015 framework should look like, and what governance
dimensions (if any) should be prioritised. While governance was a blind spot of the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) (Bergh et al., 2012b), it has moved to the centre of policy discussions
over what is needed to bring about inclusive sustainable development by 2030. Arguing that effective
governance is a core element of well-being, and not an optional extra, the UN High-Level Panel on the
Post-2015 Development Framework went further than some had expected in proposing a standalone
governance goal with a broad range of possible indicators. At the same time, numerous other
proposals on how governance (and relevant measures) could be integrated into a post-2015
framework are being put forward by different global experts and international organisations (Foresti et
al., 2014).

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