Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Efficient Governance or Good Governance

I recently found my way to Matthew Andrews’ blog – The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development. I must say, the guy is pretty intense. I put his blog's link on my site here so you can check it out. If you don't know who Matt Andrews is, well, get to know him. He happens to be one of the brains behind the Doing Development Differently and the Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), to which we recently signed on to the cooperation.

PDIA is a research working paper series co-authored by Matthew Andrews of Harvard Kennedy School, Lant Pritchett of Center for Global Development and Harvard Kennedy School, and Michael Woolcock of the World Bank. The paper series is aimed to develop a process of sustained global development efforts focused on real sustainable progress, not just lip-service. As any process-based approach, it involves defining the ecosystem of a problem and arrives at a sharpened scope of the process to be controlled. It then creates an environment where development can get the buy-ins of stakeholders (an “authorizing environment” as the Harvard guys called it). Following a process control loop-back system, the process concludes with re-emphasis on stakeholder engagement. This slight deviation and final emphasis on stakeholder engagement differs from a traditional process improvement approach of define, measure, analyze, design and control. It must be noted since it is there to anticipate the problems of multi-variables that exist in a human environment (as opposed to a machine instruction context in industrial 6 Sigma). Simply put, if you are dealing with humans, you must double your effort to get buy-ins so all parts must work together.

I enjoy reading his blog. Matt Andrews’ voice fills a void in the sustainability conversation. Where most people find human rights the default topic to discuss and some even attempts at attaching environmental issues to the conversation of the poor, Matt Andrews focuses on good governance and development in the world without the cliché of throwing money at the problem. He is much more involved from a governance point of view and seems to focus on indicators of good governance to distil the best practices that he warns us to instinctively repulse.

Yet I think he sometimes gets the message distilled too much. For example, his most recent blog post on energy consumption as a good indicator on good governance misses an important point about development in sustainable ways. He made the point that more light is an effective measure of good governance because: governments are the ones authorized and required to make electricity accessible; a healthy regulatory framework and public interest of production and distribution of electricity means the government is doing a good job.

Well, partly yes. I agree more access to electricity means more efficient governance, but efficient governance doesn’t necessarily mean good governance. For example, US and Europe are the two most electricity accessible regions and look at how much energy demand we put on the world as an ecosystem? Look at China and see how bright it is in where pollution is at its worst? Put it simply, to you Harvard guys, let’s distinguish between efficient and capable governance with actually good sense governance in terms of sustainability.

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