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Governance and Nationbuilding: the failure of international intervention

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Kate Jenkins, William Plowden
Edward Elgar (June 2006)

Governance and Nationbuilding describes how aid donors have attempted to improve the performance of government in developing countries and countries in crisis. Kate Jenkins and William Plowden review the widespread lack of success, tracing the history of international government intervention, the roles of donors and recipient countries, the ways in which expert advice and support have been provided, and the donors' own evaluation of their work.

The authors outline and analyse the many obstacles to success, highlighting how the lack of effective learning from experience has led to repeated failures to improve the quality of government. The authors draw on the donors' own assessments of the issues and on their own experience in the British government and many other countries. They recommend a new approach to improving government: much less grandiose and more modest expectations on the part of the donors, and a new and enhanced role fo recipient countries.

Recommendations

'Reporting on the failure of international intervention, Jenkins and Plowden offer an illuminating analysis of an old but always ignored truth: institutions can be imported, not exported.'
Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, Getulio Vargas Foundation, Sãu Paulo, Brazil

'Anyone contemplating giving aid to developing countries for economic development and governmental modernisation should read this wide-ranging and sharp analysis of why past programmes have brought disappointment and disillusion, and what can be done in the future to ensure more effective use of such aid. It goes beyond economics, encompassing history, culture, social factors and above all politics. It reflects the accumulated wisdom and scholarship of two experienced practical administrators and consultants, who have seen at first hand what can go wrong.'
GW Jones, LSE

'This study by Jenkins and Plowden breaks new ground in the treatment of these issues. They get behind the generalities that often bedevil debates on governance and document in telling detail the myriad ways in which aid donors have systematically attempted to transfer and transplant an idealised (and largely Westernised) blueprint of governance to societies which were either unable or unwilling to "receive" them. Because their study is rooted not only in a careful survey of a comprehensive literature, but also in an informed understanding of the preferences and practices of the main aid donor organisations, it adds up to a devastating critique of the inadequacies and failures of this crucial aid strategy. A penetrating, well argued assessment of governance and public management reform in a global context, this timely book makes a much needed critical contribution to what has too often been an unthinking and superficial debate. It should be required reading for all students of comparative governance and public management.'
Martin Minogue, University of Manchester, UK

  • Kate Jenkins is chairman of KJA and a governor of LSE
  • William Plowden is a governor of LSE

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