Traditionally governments play a central role in the delivery of goods and services to the citizens. The chief organ of government through which it accomplishes this task is public bureaucracy. Thus public administration has been dominated by bureaucratic organisations for a long time. Of late, the bureaucratic model has shown several inadequacies to perform the existing tasks efficiently and has proved to be rigid enough to mould its structure to take the future challenges. In this light market has emerged as an alternative mode of delivery of goods and services to the clients. Civil society organizations and the voluntary sector are another alternative modes for serving people Thus “non-state actors” have emerged as key players in providing the services which were earlier considered to be the exclusive domain of the state. This interaction and cooperation among the various state and non-state agencies has given rise to the concept of “governance”. Thus there has been a gradual shift from monopolistic “government” to a more broad based “governance”. Thus governance is a collective endeavor of the state, market and community.

Concept of Good Governance

The term governance, according to many, was used as early as 14th century in France to denote “a seat of government”. However, the World Bank has reinvented this term to denote a “new approach to development”. The inefficient utilization of public funds, rapid increase in corruption, excessive governmental expenditure thereby increasing the fiscal debts, failure of central planning in various countries and not substantial economic growth despite the structural adjustment programmes etc. posed several serious questions about the governance system. This forced World Bank to study the situation. As a result of this, World Bank published its documentation entitled “Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth” in 1989 enlisting some of the reasons why market oriented reforms could not be successful. Failure of public institutions was mentioned as the major reason why the markets performed badly resulting in poor economic performance. For solve this situation, World Bank used the term Good Governance as “sound development management” which had the following dimensions:

  • Public sector management
  • Accountability
  • Legal framework for development
  • Transparency of the governmental institutions and easy accessibility to information

In 1992, for the first time, the World Bank formulated the concept of “Good Governance” in its report “Governance and Development”. Good Governance was defined as the “manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”. This report identified following three important components of good governance:

  • The form of political regime whether it parliamentary, presidential, military or civil in the country
  • The process by which authority is exercised in the management of country’s economic and social resources
  • The capacity of government to design, formulate and implement policies

The above features were important for creating an environment which could sustain the human development and economic growth in a country in long run. The above three features of good governance were expanded and explained in detail through the following set of characteristics of good governance:

  1. The form of political accountability. How far is the political system in the country accepted by the people and whether regular elections are conducted to legitimize the exercise of political power?
  2. Freedom of association and participation by various religious, social, economic, cultural and professional groups in the process of governance.
  3. An established legal framework based on rule of law and independence of judiciary to protect human rights, secure social justice and guard against exploitation & abuse of power.
  4. Bureaucratic accountability emphasizing openness and transparency in administration
  5. Freedom of information and expression needed for formulation of public policies, decision making, monitoring and evaluation of government performance.
  6. An efficient and effective administrative system.
  7. Co-operation between the civil society and administration

A politico-administrative system was envisaged to solve the various problems such as excessive delays in implementation of public policies, lack of clarity in the rules & regulations, absence of effective accounting system and failure to ensure participation in administration.

The World Bank has laid down the above conditions to be met before giving developmental assistance to any country. Other multilateral agencies such as the OECD countries and the UNDP have also emphasized the good governance parameters. According to OECD, these are:

  • Legitimacy of government
  • Accountability of political and administrative systems of the country
  • Competence of government to make policies and deliver services
  • Respect for human rights and the rule of law ensuring legal framework for economic & social activity etc.

In above formulation by OECD, new components of human rights and rule of law have been added to emphasize the participation of citizens.

In a UNDP Workshop on Governance for Sustainable Human Development, (1994) certain characteristics of Good Governance were identified. These include:

  • Participation
  • Responsiveness to people
  • Development of resources and methods of governance
  • Mobilization of resources for social purposes
  • Operation by Rule of Law
  • Enabling and Facilitative Environment
  • Regulation rather than Control
  • Service-Orientation
  • Sustainability
  • Acceptability to people
  • Promotion of equity and equality
  • Promotion of gender balance


Like this Article? Get Updates in EMAIL for FREE !!!