Governance for Inclusive Development:: the role of research in policy and practice

10 December 2009 (Block 3: Governing for inclusion - The urban challenge)


About the lecture:
Starting with a brief introduction into the wide variety of definitions of governance, this lecture looks into the meaning and use of the notion of governance in academic discourse and in development discourse.

The academic usage of the concept is placed in a long historical context. It is argued that attention was given to notions of governance in the early modern period of political philosophy, related to the birth of the nation state and the need to explain and legitimize the nation state.

After this early period, attention shifted to government and the role of the state and this remained the chief focus of political philosophy and science for more than three centuries. It is only relatively recently that attention for governance rather than government is resurging, related to globalization processes and the hollowing-out of the state.

Attention for governance in development discourse surfaced slightly later, mainly related to the demise of the Washington consensus. Contrary to the academic usage, in development discourse the notion of governance refers first and foremost to government and the role of the state.

It will be argued that the concept of governance – or more precisely: good governance – in development discourse is rather normative and prescriptive. There is a noticeable tension between the focus on good governance on the one hand and principles of the Paris Declaration and Accra Action Plan on the other.

The phenomenon of governance assessments will be discussed to further demonstrate this tension and one example, the Dutch ‘Strategic Governance And Corruption Analysis’ (SGACA) will be looked into in more detail.

The lecture ends with some concluding remarks on governance in academic and development discourse and the need for research capacity strengthening in this field in developing countries.

Dr. Henk Molenaar

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