What is governance? The discussion continues
In early March, Governance published Francis Fukuyama's commentary, What is Governance? Since then, we've received responses from scholars and professionals around the world. The discussion has been featured on the highly regarded Monkey Cage blog as well as the website of Foreign Policy Magazine. Here are excerpts from comments received since our last newsletter. Read the complete responses on the Governance blog:
Francis Fukuyama has done the West an enormous favor with his essay on "What is governance?" He is subtly introducing a distinction between democracy and good governance, a distinction which is almost inconceivable in Western minds. -- Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
[Fukuyama] claims a comparative power for his work; yet his first two moves add to the ethnocentricity of the concept. Firstly, he equates governance to state activity and competence. In this very first move, he desiccates the definition by destroying its comparative power, by narrowing it. Secondly by merging authoritarian and democratic governance, he loses normativity essential to its meaning. -- Professor Shiv Visvanathan, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy.
The governance context [Fukuyama] automatically assumed was still the Western democracy where there is a separation of politics and administration. That division, however, is not all that clear in many non-Western democratic contexts. -- Lan Xue, Dean of the Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management.
I fundamentally disagree with Francis Fukuyama on the conceptual separation of state capacity from processes. He seems to limit state capacity to the professional background of officials and the resources available. -- Christiane Arndt, OECD.
The "beginning" of Francis Fukuyama's "effort to better measure governance", as the scope of his paper is defined, provides interesting and contradictory messages on the shape of things to come. -- Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership.
Frank Fukuyama's article reminds us that we have a long way to go before we fully understand what governance is, let alone how it should be measured. -- Professor Matt Andrews, Harvard Kennedy School.
The concepts of capacity and autonomy could indeed be usefully applied to the different phases of the policy process, "upstream" in the setting of policy priorities and the design of policy responses at the center of government, "mainstream" in the machinery of government and the public bureaucracy, and "downstream" in the delivery of services. -- Carlos Santiso, Inter-American Development Bank.
The commentary is explicitly intended to generate discussion about the nature of good governance, not to suggest specific ways to quantify governance. Yet the clear implication is that it should be possible to put numbers on governance once the issues of taxonomy are settled. I am not so sure. -- Arthur Goldsmith, University of Massachusetts Boston.
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