Special Issue on the Politics and Governance of Public Services in Developing Countries

A special of the journal Public Management Review edited by Richard Batley (IDD) and Willy McCourt (World Bank) examines how political factors affect the provision of public services such as health-care, water, social insurance and cash transfers. The special issue carries an article by the editors with Claire Mcloughlin (IDD)

Politics and governance have become central to explanations of the widespread under-provision of public services in developing countries. Political analysis offers an understanding of what might otherwise appear to be exclusively managerial or capacity problems.

The articles in this special issue contribute to three main aspects of a growing new literature on the political economy of service provision: how the incentives of elites are formed and affect whether, to whom and how services are provided; how top–down and bottom–up systems of accountability may act and also interact to affect incentives; and the effect of service provision on state–society relations.

The special issue as a whole suggests that the politics of service provision should be understood as a cycle of causation: politics affect the policy, governance and implementation of services, but in turn service provision is a theatre of politics and affects citizen formation and the development of state capacity and legitimacy.

Some of the articles reflect on general experience; others focus on particular countries including Nepal, Mongolia, China, Kenya and Iraq. Together they show how a political perspective enables new insights into the causes of weak service provision, and how it can be improved.

Find the introductory article here: