Pablo Yanguas

Political Analysis / Anti-Corruption / Adaptive Development

Category: Africa (page 1 of 4)

“Varieties of state-building in Africa”: New comparative paper on public sector reform

ESID has just released my new working paper on comparative PSR in Ghana, Uganda, and Rwanda: “Varieties of state-building in Africa: Elites, ideas and the politics of public sector reform“.

Here’s the abstract, followed by the download link:

Why do some states in Africa seem to be stuck in a spiral of corruption and institutional weakness? Why do others somehow build effective bureaucracies that are able and willing to tackle the challenges of development? The public sector remains the inescapable anchor of development, whether for good or ill, but our understanding of the politics of public sector reform remains shackled by concepts that do not allow for variation or change over time. This paper presents a theoretical framework for understanding variations in public sector reform (PSR): centring the analysis on the intersection of power relations and ideas, the paper shows how the stability of a country’s elite settlement and the coherence of its developmental ideology interact with reform ideas in the PSR policy domain. This framework is explored through a structured-focused comparison of reform experiences in three Sub-Saharan African countries with different elite settlements: competitive Ghana; weakly dominant Uganda; and dominant Rwanda. In Ghana, where successive regimes have focused on political control for partisan purposes, it has been quick reforms compatible with top-down control that have achieved political traction. In Uganda, high-visibility reforms were introduced to secure donor funding, as long as they did not threaten the ruling coalition’s power. In Rwanda, lastly, the regime has fostered and protected various public sector reforms because it envisioned them as instruments for domestic legitimation as constituent elements of an impartial developmental state. In combination, policy domain, elite time horizons, and ideational fit allow us to move beyond blanket statements about isomorphic mimicry or neopatrimonialism, and towards a more nuanced understanding of the varieties of state-building in Africa.

PDF download.

LISTEN: Public Sector Reform in Ghana

Here’s a recording of our event on Public Sector Reform: Prospects and Challenges in Ghana and Beyond, hosted by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on 4 April 2016.

A computer game about African democracy!

I can’t wait to try this out.

Article on public sector reform now available

Taylor & Francis has finally released online my Third World Quarterly piece with Badru Bukenya: ‘New’ approaches confront ‘old’ challenges in African public sector reform. It has been a lengthy process between TWQ and T&F, but we are finally there. Here’s the abstract:

The disappointing performance of conventional public sector reforms in developing countries has led to the rise of ‘new’ approaches seeking to overcome traditional bureaucratic barriers to change: leadership-focused interventions like the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI); accountability-focused initiatives like the Open Government Partnership (OGP); and adaptation-focused models like those of Africa Power and Politics (APP). While these approaches are appealing to aid donors in their promise to move beyond the limitations of purely formal institution building, they fail to provide new answers to the ‘old’ analytical and practical challenges of public sector reform, in particular administrative patrimonialism, public corruption and political capture. The evidence is yet inchoate, but all points to the need for these approaches to work together with conventional ones. Beyond novel implementation tactics, however, there is a need for new strategies of sustained political support for embattled reformers who face powerful incentives against institutional change.

African politics in Western news networks

Someone linked to this on Twitter, and I just couldn’t resist:

You have to love Ugandan public media

Day 1 of fieldwork in Kampala. Government-owned New Vision daily, page 4, manages to get everything wrong about police reform, church-state relations, and – I would argue – even Christianity itself:

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Catching up with Sierra Leone: The numbers

Ph.D. dissertations are a funny thing: some form the basis of a life-long examination of a single topic, some serve as training or staging grounds in which a new researcher can cut her teeth, and yet some may foreshadow future work in ways that are not easy to anticipate. My job in Manchester seemed at first to take me in an entirely new direction away from that 2012 Cornell dissertation, and yet recent turns of events keep bringing me back to it with a vengeance. Between 2009 and 2011 I became a bit of an expert on Sierra Leone and Liberia – or more specifically on their politics and post-conflict reconstruction. Now that the world’s gaze is once more fixed on the Mano River region – sadly for tragic reasons – I have decided to catch up with Freetown and Monrovia in order to find out whether my claims back in 2011 retain any scrap of relevance a couple of years – and elections – later. Continue reading

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