Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Going Beyond Governance: New Research Directions on States and Citizens in the Global South

April 4, 2016

In the late twentieth century, the international donor community blamed persistent poverty on wrongheaded policies, and encouraged developing countries to embrace a series of painful reforms designed to jump-start growth and development. When those reforms failed to redress the problem, however, attention shifted away from policies to “governance,” i.e., the policymakers, bureaucrats, judges, and the like responsible for implementing the policies in the first place, many of whom were—rightly or wrongly--thought to be incompetent and/or corrupt.

But few people actually study the frontline agents who staff most developing country governments. Where do they come from? How are they trained, assigned, and compensated? What makes them tick? Who are their principal interlocutors? And to what effect?

In the first of what we hope to be a series of workshops on governance in the Global South, and with the generous support of the Watson Institute, Patrick Heller and Andrew Schrank invited more than a dozen scholars, policymakers, and activists, including many from Asia and Latin America, to develop more grounded and comparative insights into the challenges and opportunities afforded by contemporary efforts to promote “good governance” in the developing world. Contributors examined everything from schooling in India to tax collection in China and judicial authority in Argentina, and in so doing developed a series of rich hypotheses for subsequent data collection and testing and themes to be discussed at our next workshop.