07 May 2013

Chatting Governance with Harvard's Matthew Andrews

One of the pillars of economic development is governance.

Programs like the broad-based Washington Consensus relied upon improving governments to ensure that economic reforms such as trade liberalization and privatization of public enterprises. The alphabet soup of major donors like the World Bank, USAID and DfID have a applied wide-stroke solutions to governance.

The policies that made up the Washington Consensus did not help out Latin America, says BU Associate Professor of International Relations, Kevin Gallagher in the Guardian.
The 30-year record of the Washington consensus was abysmal for Latin America, which grew less than 1% per year in per capita terms during the period, in contrast with 2.6% during the period 1960-81. East Asia, on the other hand, which is known for its state-managed globalisation (most recently epitomised by China), has grown 6.7% per annum in per capita terms since 1981, actually up from 3.5% in that same period.
As with all development challenges, the solutions are often more complicated than the proposed solutions. Governance reform is not an exception.

Harvard University researcher Matthew Andrews says that the one-size-fits all approach to governance reform is misguided.

In The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development, Andrews proposes what an approach to governance reform that he calls Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). His approach leans on a locally driven approach to reforms that involve allowing more emergent change as opposed to top-down and technocratic fixes.

Alan Hudson of the ONE Campaign shared an example of PDIA in action in his review of the book.
One example of this approach is seen in Burundi’s HIV/AIDS Control and Orphans Project. In that project there was a clear focus on the problem, but also flexibility about how best to address it. For instance, anti-retroviral treatment had not been part of the initial project plan, but when such treatment became affordable the plan was revised to take account of this change of context.
To learn more about PDIA and the challenges to governance, I posed a few questions to Andrews about the topic.

read the interview with Andrews on Humanosphere...