Assessing Governance in 16 Countries: The Aggregate Picture

Working and discussion papers
November 2002
Julius Court, Goran Hyden and Ken Mease

This paper reports on the aggregate findings of the pilot World Governance Assessment project. It is divided into two major sections. The first presents an aggregate profile of governance performance in each of the 16 countries included in this study. To facilitate the analysis, it groups the countries in terms of high, medium and low governance score based on the 2000 survey. It also discusses changes that have taken place over the five-year period respondents were asked to consider. Attention is paid to explaining the major changes that have taken place, whether positive or negative, in individual countries. The second section discusses governance ratings by arena with a view to identifying, which seems to be particularly volatile.

We emphasize the differences between the study of governance and studies democratization in two important respects: (1) governance provides a ‘thick’ definition that allows for an assessment of a broader set of variables than those typically included in studies of democratization; and (2) it is not a priori loaded in the direction of favoring the liberal-democratic model. As expected, our findings do not automatically correlate well with studies that draw on this model for its primary indicators. At the same time, we are interested in determining how much overlap there is in the explanatory variables used here with other attempts at measuring governance (or specific aspects thereof).

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