Achieving governance reforms under pressure to demonstrate results: dilemma or new beginning?

Books or book chapters
November 2015

Organisations affiliated with the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) are under increasing pressure to justify their budgets by showing results of a demonstrable and preferably measurable kind.

Not infrequently, this is understood as an obligation to support programmes that produce predefined outputs on a predictable basis within planning cycles that are as short as three to five years.

However, for those responsible for designing and delivering programmes to influence governance, the rigidity of the standard performance pressures poses a problem. Governance programmes are expected to contribute to changes in institutions, which are recognised to be the result of long-term processes, subject to considerable uncertainty and are not easy to measure. On current assumptions, therefore, governance advisers and planners in development agencies face a serious dilemma.

But does the above description accurately capture the current state of play, and are these assumptions valid? This paper suggestions not, whilst also providing a way out of this dilemma for governance practitioners.