Governance has been viewed from different angles focusing on various dimensions of it. In general, sense governance means exercising political power to manage a nation’s affair. Today governance is seen as a reflection of the role of the state in giving direction to the development, a country and political regime. Only recently McCarney, Halfami and Rodriguez become successful in placing the term ‘Governance’ in a broader context and focusing on its core aspects. According to them, governance has two things, in the first sense; “it means a system of government concentrating on effective and accountable institutions, democratic principles and electoral process, representative and responsible structures to ensure an open and legitimate relationship between the civil society and the state.” (McCarney, et al. 1995)
UNDP made another precise definition of governance. According to UNDP, “Governance is viewed as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage country affairs at all levels. It comprises mechanisms, processes and institutions, through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences”.
World Bank defines Governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development,” The World Bank has identified three distinct aspect of governance:
- The form of political regime.
- The process by which authority is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.
- The capacity of governments to design, formulate and implement policies and discharge functions.
Another widely accepted definition was made by Jon Pierre and Guy Peters. They wrote in this context, “Governance can be a confusing term. It has become an umbrella concept for such a wide variety of phenomena as policy networks (Rhodes, 1997), public management (Hood, 1990), coordination of sectors of the economy (Campbell et al. 1991; Hollingsworth at al., 1994), public-private partnerships (Pierre, 1980), corporate governance (Williamson, 1996), and ‘good governance’ as a reform objective promoted by the World Bank and the IMF (Laftwich, 1994). Furthermore, there is a tendency to confuse governance as an empirical phenomenon with theories about how this phenomenon operates and can be understood”.
Forms of Governance:
Governance can be viewed both in positive and negative terms –
(1) Poor governance.
(2) Good governance.
(1) Poor Governance:
A World Bank booklet cogently summarized the major symptoms of Poor Governance. These are:
- Failure to make a clear separation between what is public and what is private, hence, a tendency to direct public resources for private gain;
- Failure to establish a predictable framework of law and government behavior conducive to development or arbitrariness in the application of rule of laws;
- Executive rules, regulations, licensing requirements and so forth, which impede functioning of markets and encourage rent seeking;
- Priorities, inconsistent with development, resulting in a mis-allocation of resources;
- Excessively narrowly based or non-transparent decision making;
- Excessive costs;
- Poor service to the public and;
- Failure to achieve the aims of policy.
(2) Good Governance:
Good governance means an ideal governing system that is inevitable for political, economic, social and cultural development of a country. It is the ideal orientation of a state that works best to achieve self-reliance, sustainable development and social justice.
Since 1978, due to un-international standardized management, i.e. especially of some countries in Latin America and Africa, the super state, World Bank had then proposed a political term called good governance. In general sense, good governance means an ideal governing system that is inevitable for political, economic, social and cultural development of a country. Ideal governing system means the ideal orientation of a state that works best to achieve self-reliance, sustainable development and social justice and the ideal functioning of government that operate most efficiently. Good governance ensures a better today and a brighter tomorrow for all the citizens. It is the proper management of public officials. Still a precise definition of good governance is awaited.
Good Governance, for the World Bank, includes some or all of the following features:
- An efficient public service;
- An independent judicial system and legal framework to enforce contracts;
- Accountable administration of public funds;
- An independent public auditor, responsible to a representative legislature;
- Respect for the law and human rights at all levels of government;
- A pluralistic institution structure and;
- A free press
Realizing the difficulties of defining good governance, the overwhelming tendency has been to delineate aspects of good governance. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has highlighted several aspects of good governance. Some of these include:
1.the promotion of democracy and open pluralistic societies;
2.the Strengthening of transparent, accountable, efficient and effective national and local government;
3.the promotion of respect for human right;
4.the reinforcement of rule of law, including fair and accessible legal and judicial systems;
5.the promotion of independent media and the dissemination of information;
6.anti-corruption initiatives; and
7.Efforts to reduce excessive military expenditure.
When we talk about good governance, we in fact refer to the working relation among the three organs of the state and actions of the executive branch of the state. In operational terms, these refer to enjoyment of fundamental human rights; independence of judiciary, abiding by the rule of law, policy based administrative accountability, transparency, accountability, predictability, effectiveness and efficiency of the government. Political, legal and bureaucratic accountability are the three main aspects of basic to good governance.
Elements of Good Governance:
There are many elements of good governance. Opinions differ on the elements of good governance among international organizations, scholars and academicians. However, synthesizing their discussions the core elements of good governance are as follows:
1.The democratic process: Transparency in the election process; parliamentary conduct; parliamentary immunity and privileges; decentralization of authority.
2.Accountability-both political and financial;
3.Reform of public administration: adequate remuneration as a disincentive to corruption; ethical codes of conduct; training and education
4.Civil society: non-governmental organizations, the media and investigative journalism; corporate-private sector; academic community
5.Complaints procedure: whistle-blower status
6.The ombudsman: the appointment process; resources allocated to the ombudsman; accessibility
7.Enforcement of Rule of law and judicial system: independence of the judiciary; removal of judges for cause; adequate remuneration; promotion of judges; independent prosecutors; improved access to justice
8.Privatization: monopolies as a vehicle for corrupt practices; privatization procedures; transparency in government procurement.
9.Participation: Participation of citizens in decision making and implementation;
10.Enforcement mechanisms: independent anti-corruption agencies; prosecutorial powers; civil and criminal penalties.
Characteristics of good governance:
Remy Herrera said that, democratic and impartial institutions, efficient management of resources, transparency in decision-making and accountability are the hallmarks of good governance. Apart from being an instrument of public affairs management, or a gauge of political development, governance has become a useful mechanism to enhance the legitimacy of the public realm.
Much has been written about the characteristics of efficient government, successful businesses and effective civil society organizations, but the characteristics of good governance defined in societal terms remain elusive. The characteristics are:
- Participation – People should have a say in decision-making, either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that affects their life and represent their interests. Such broad participation is built on freedom of association and speech, as well as capacities to participate constructively.
- Rule of law – Legal frameworks should be fair and enforced impartially, particularly the laws on human rights. Rule of law is ensured in every sphere. People’s human rights and fundamental freedom are respected, allowing them to live with dignity.
- Transparency – Transparency is built on the free flow of information. Processes, institutions and information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information is provided to understand and monitor them.
- Responsiveness – Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders.
- Consensus orientation – Good governance mediates differing interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interests of the group and, where possible, on policies and procedures.
- Equity – People are free from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class, gender or any other attribute. All men and women have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being. Women are equal partners with men in private and public spheres of life and decision-making.
- Effectiveness and efficiency – Processes and institutions produce results that meet needs while making the best use of resources.
- Accountability – Decision-makers in government, the private sector and civil society organizations are accountable to the public, as well as to institutional stakeholders. This accountability differs depending on the organization and whether the decision is internal or external to an organization.
- Strategic vision – Leaders and the public have a broad and long-term perspective on good governance and human development, along with a sense of what is needed for such development. There is also an understanding of the historical, cultural and social complexities in which that perspective is grounded and the needs of future generations are reflected in current policies.
Attributes of Good Governance:
The instrumental nature of governance implies that the four governance “pillars” are universally applicable regardless of the economic orientation, strategic priorities, or policy choices of the government. The four attributes of governance are accountability, transparency, predictability and participation (World Bank: 2000).
|Accountability (Building Government Capacity)|| Transparency |
| Predictability |
| Participation |
(Participatory Development Process)
| • Public sector |
• Public Enterprise
• Public financial
• Civil service reform
| • Disclosure of |
| • Law and |
For Private sector
| • Participation of beneficiaries and affected groups |
• Public sector/ private sector interface
• Decentralization of public and service delivery functions
• Empowerment of local governments
• Cooperation with Non-government organizations