What are the key challenges for governance reform in complex, diverse sociopolitical and economic conditions? How can these challenges best be addressed? This volume from the World Bank argues that successful, sustained reform requires the alignment of citizens, stakeholders, and voice. Reformers must overcome adaptive challenges such as public opinion, self-interested forces and inertia, and this requires skilled communication. Communication links the constitutive elements of the public sphere – engaged citizenries, vibrant civil societies, plural and independent media systems, and open government institutions – to facilitate the national dialogue which shapes informed public opinion.
Technical solutions to governance problems are insufficient where broad national ownership of reform is questionable, public opinion is hostile, and coalitions of support scarce. Experience from around the world suggests the value of of consensus seeking, the dangers of fake consultations, and the importance of leadership even in consensus-building efforts. Networks are also important; for example, professional networks among individuals can be a tool for analysis and can help get things done. The concepts of dialogue, deliberation, decision making and negotiation must be carefully differentiated.
The six key challenges of governance reform are:
- Building support for governance reform through political analysis
- Securing political will among leaders, policymakers and legislators: Network analysis can be used here, for example, or a reform space model that focuses on the intersection among acceptance, authority, and ability.
- Gaining the support of public sector middle managers, often the strongest opponents of change: Approaches such as ‘appreciative inquiry’ can successfully engage middle management in the reform process.
- Building broad pro-change coalitions to deal with powerful vested interests
- Transforming indifferent or hostile public opinion into support for reform objectives: Creating links with people’s existing motivations and interests enables issues to be ‘framed’ to foster a pro-reform perspective.
- Encouraging citizen demand for accountability to sustain governance reform: Techniques such as deliberative opinion polling can be useful in informing and engaging citizens.
Reformers should use the public sphere framework as part of governance analysis. While some of the constitutive elements of the democratic public sphere are now part of the governance agenda, a framework that ties everything together and also explores and takes advantage of the mutually reinforcing nature of its different elements is missing. Successful reform also involves:
- A strategy for dealing with adaptive challenges, plus sufficient financial and human resources for its implementation
- Training reform managers and building government capacity to handle these challenges
- Support for efforts to systematise and disseminate knowledge of how to tackle these challenges
- Recognition that governance reform requires multidisciplinary expertise.