Good Governance: The Inflation of an Idea
Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Harvard Kennedy School
June 2010 RWP10-023
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Good Governance: The Inflation of an Idea Merilee Grindle Harvard University May 2008
Good governance is a good idea. We would all be better off, and citizens of many developing countries would be much better off, if public life were conducted within institutions that were fair, judicious, transparent, accountable, participatory, responsive, well-managed, and efficient. For the millions of people throughout the world who live in conditions of public insecurity and instability, corruption, abuse of law, public service failure, poverty, and inequality, good governance is a mighty beacon of what ought to be. Due to this intuitive appeal, good governance has grown rapidly to become a major ingredient in analyses of what’s missing in countries struggling for economic and political development. Researchers have adopted the concept as a way of exploring institutional failure and constraints on growth. Putting governance right has become a major aspect of development assistance. Advocates have linked the advancement of a variety of issues to improved governance. By the 2000s, a significant portion of the development agenda was related to good governance; international development agencies created departments of governance, employed a small army of governance advisors and researchers, included governance components in...