Today the mainstream development model involves the simultaneous pursuit of: 1) political liberalisation and democracy promotion, 2) economic liberalisation towards a market-based economy, and 3) state capacity-building (Fritz & Rocha Menocal, 2007, p. 38). Within this framework, key trends influencing donors’ institutional reform agendas include:
- Increasing attention to thinking and working politically (Rocha Menocal, 2014; Fritz et al., 2014)
- Continued prominence of the good governance agenda as the means and end of institutional reform
- A focus, in conflict-affected contexts, on building the basic foundations essential for a government to govern and on (re-)generating state legitimacy (Fritz & Rocha Menocal, 2007, p. 4; Paris & Sisk, 2009, p. 1)
- Emphasis on decentralisation for facilitating democratic evolution and improving accountability and service delivery (Scott, 2011, p. 12)
- The aid effectiveness agenda’s focus on supporting effective institutions through the use of country systems, capacity-building and mutual accountability (see the Busan New Consensus on More Effective Institutions for Development, 2011).
- The rise of rights-based development.
Development actors routinely emphasise the importance of institutions for poverty reduction and development in their commitments and policy agendas. The UK Prime Minister has promoted the ‘Golden Thread’ of conditions including ‘the rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, and the presence of property rights and strong institutions’ (Cameron, 2012). The post-MDG High Level Panel report identifies the need for rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech and the media, open political choice, access to justice, and accountable government and public institutions (United Nations, 2013, executive summary). The Africa ‘transformative’ agenda focuses on good public financial institutions and governance as prerequisites for Africa to grow out of aid (World Economic Forum, 2013).
- 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. (2011). New consensus on more ‘effective institutions’ for development. See document online
- Brinkerhoff, D. (2008). The state and international development management: Shifting tides, changing boundaries, and future directions. Public Administration Review, 68, 985–1001. See document online
- Cameron, D. (November 1, 2012). Combating poverty at its roots. The Wall Street Journal. See document online
- Fritz, V., & Rocha Menocal, A. (2007). Understanding state-building from a political economy perspective: an analytical and conceptual paper on processes, embedded tensions and lessons for international engagement (Report for DFID’s Effective and Fragile States Team). London: Overseas Development Institute. See document online
- Fritz, V., Levy, B., & Ort, R. (Eds.). (2014). Problem-driven political economy analysis: The World Bank’s experience. Washington, DC: World Bank. See document online
- Paris, R., & Sisk, T. D. (Eds.) (2009). The dilemmas of statebuilding: Confronting the contradictions of postwar peace operations. London: Routledge. See document online
- Rocha Menocal, A. (2014). Getting real about politics. London: Overseas Development Institute. See document online
- Scott, Z. (2011). Evaluation of public sector governance reforms 2001-2011. Literature Review. Oxford: Oxford Policy Management. See document online
- United Nations (2013). A new global partnership: Eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development. The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. See document online
- World Economic Forum. (2013). World Economic Forum on Africa. Delivering on Africa’s promise. Cape Town, South Africa 8-10 May 2013. Geneva: World Economic Forum. See document online