Varieties of Governance: Effective Public Service Delivery
Examining service delivery within a political economy framework
The GDN Global Research Project titled Varieties of Governance: Effective Public Service Delivery explores the role of formal and informal institutions (at both country and sector level) in service delivery mechanisms in the areas of basic education, water supply and transportation infrastructure (roads). GDN is now inviting researchers (teams and organizations) to participate in this project.
The innovative idea behind the project is to look at these issues with a comparative perspective and study the links between the effectiveness (or lack) of these public services under various institutions (or types) of governance. Effective governance includes various elements such as accountability, transparency, an effective bureaucracy, regulatory quality, electoral competition, political checks and balances and rule of law. The mix of these elements and the mechanisms for achieving them vary across countries, and through a comparative model, the project aims to contribute to the understanding of which delivery systems produce what kinds of outcomes under different governance contexts.
We have chosen Basic Education, Water and Transport (Roads) as the sectors of our focus because of their vitality to the process of holistic development for any country.
Education is a key social sector, important in itself as well as for its relation to other important development factors, such as health, fertility rates, human capital and so on. Despite the recent increase in global primary enrolments, there are still about 75 million children of primary-school age who are not enrolled in school. Almost all of these children (95.4%) live in developing countries, and 56.8% are girls. Similarly, the availability of clean, safe water and sanitation facilities are also basic needs, with major effects on health. Water access is disparate across countries. For example, Brazil with a population of 190 million has access to one-fifth of the world’s water resources, whereas India and China with a joint population of 2.5 billion have access to only one-tenth of resources.
And lastly, the importance of a well designed, well constructed and well maintained road network in both urban and rural areas cannot be underestimated in its role of facilitating a vibrant economy, reducing poverty and providing access to health and education facilities. The roads sector instead, in most cases, is plagued by the inefficient choice of roads, excessive costs of projects and insufficient and untimely maintenance of roads, as well as high levels of corruption.
While addressing key loopholes in the above mentioned sectors, other key questions this project will address are:
How are large differences in equity of access in terms of quality difference amongst schools impacting learning levels?
How is access to large regulated water network systems divided amongst the rich and poor, urban and rural users?
What are the reasons behind the under-maintenance and differences in maintenance among road networks in developing countries?