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Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Matthew Andrews
Senior Lecturer in Public Policy
phone: (617)384-8039
Good Government Means Different Things in Different Countries
Andrews, Matthew. "Good Government Means Different Things in Different Countries." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP08-068, November 2008.
Recent work on good governance implies a one best way model of effective government. This work has isomorphic influences on academic, donor and reform engagements in developing countries. But the one best way model actually does not hold, even for governments that score highly on governance indicators. Governments actually look different, even if they are similarly called ‘effective’ or ‘models of good government’. The current article examines this issue and proposes a contingent approach to explain why good governments can look different. It suggests that government structures need to be explained in terms of the governing context—not the isomorphic influence of what indicators suggest good governance is. Key contextual factors that a contingent approach would consider in appraising government include economic challenges, demographic realities, and socio and political structures. The paper draws these factors out of an inductive analysis of differences in a set of OECD countries considered examples of ‘good government’.



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