Governance and Nationbuilding

Governance and Nationbuilding

The Failure of International Intervention

Kate Jenkins and William Plowden

Governance and Nationbuilding describes how aid donors have attempted to improve the performance of government in developing countries and countries in crisis. Kate Jenkins and William Plowden review the widespread lack of success, tracing the history of international government intervention, the roles of donors and recipient countries, the ways in which expert advice and support have been provided, and the donors’ own evaluation of their work.

Chapter 8: The Constraints on Reform

Kate Jenkins and William Plowden

Subjects: development studies, development studies, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations, public policy, regulation and governance


The full significance of the contexts in which governance and public sector reform must operate, and the intrinsic complexity and difficulty of the processes, are not well understood by many of those involved. Part of what needs analysis and understanding is the relationships between organizations and their context. It is not a new discovery that how organizations work, and how people behave in organizational settings, are powerfully affected by the cultures both of the organizations themselves and of the wider social context in which the organizations are set. This is all the more important when the organizations being subjected to change are part of the government sub-system. Governments have great influence on the distribution of all kinds of resources within a society. As a result, in most societies positions in government have been sought after either because they are valued for themselves or because they can improve their holders’ access to resources of one kind or another including, in particular, money and power or influence. Changes which affect the ability of some individuals or groups to acquire positions in government, or to use those positions as they think best, will almost certainly be resisted by those who believe that they will lose from the changes. RESISTANCE TO REFORM A study of reforms in South-East Asia notes that to the extent that the civil service system in some Asian countries is built upon institutionalized patterns of patronage and corruption, coupled with low pay and undue discretion in levying charges and finding...

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