Good governance

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Good governance is an indeterminate term used in the international development literature to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. Governance is "the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented)".[1] The term governance can apply to corporate, international, national, local governance[1] or to the interactions between other sectors of society.

The concept of "good governance" often emerges as a model to compare ineffective economies or political bodies with viable economies and political bodies.[2] The concept centers on the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the masses as opposed to select groups in society. Because countries often described as "most successful" are Western liberal democratic states, concentrated in Europe and the Americas, good governance standards often measure other state institutions against these states.[2] Aid organizations and the authorities of developed countries often will focus the meaning of "good governance" to a set of requirements that conform to the organization's agenda, making "good governance" imply many different things in many different contexts.[3][4][5]


Good governance in international affairs

In international affairs, analysis of good governance can look at any of the following relationships:[3]

  • between governments and markets
  • between governments and citizens
  • between governments and the private or voluntary sector
  • between elected officials and appointed officials
  • between government and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)

The varying types of comparisons comprising the analysis of governance in scholastic and practical discussion can cause the meaning of "good governance" to vary greatly from practitioner to practitioner.[3]

Good governance in corporate sectors

In corporate affairs, good governance can be observed in any of the following relationships:

  • between governance and corporate management
  • between governance and employee standards
  • between governance and corruption in the workplace

The meaning of good governance in regards to corporate sectors varies between actors. Legislation has been enacted in an attempt to influence good governance in corporate affairs. In the United States, the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 set up requirements for businesses to follow. Whistleblowing has also been widely used by corporations to expose corruption and fraudulent activity.[6]

Good governance in local governments

Good Governance is argued to be the most important in local governments. It tries to promote more relationships between government and

Good Governance with local government aims to increase civil engagement with more members of the community in order to get the best options that serves the people.[7]

Good governance in scientific exploration

Before there can be scientific experimentation, organizations must be compliant with good governance, meaning that testing must be moral and practical. Many research organizations such as SPICE (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering) a geoengineering research project that was formed in the U.K. was required to go through stages of evaluation before testing could be conducted if they were to be funded by stakeholders. In 2011 SPICE made plans to experiment with solar radiation. The method for this experiment included injecting stratospheric sulfur aerosols into the Earths atmosphere.

The criteria or "stage-gate" that they must pass before performing their experiment included the following; identify safe and principle risks, test must be compliant with relevant regulations, future applications and impacts, and mechanisms put in place to review these in the light of new information, and that the stakeholders must be regarded and taken into account. Before research can be conducted in the field of geoengineering it must be scrutinized using good governance to ensure testing isn't harmful to the environment and to detail all the possible risks that may occur.[8]

Reform and standards[edit]

Three institutions can be reformed to promote good governance: the state, the private sector and civil society.[9] However, among different cultures, the need and demand for reform can vary depending on the priorities of that country's society.[10] A variety of country level initiatives and international movements put emphasis on various types of governance reform. Each movement for reform establishes criteria for what they consider good governance based on their own needs and agendas. The following are examples of good governance standards for prominent organizations in the international community.


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared in 1996 that "promoting good governance in all its aspects, including by ensuring the rule of law, improving the efficiency and accountability of the public sector, and tackling corruption, as essential elements of a framework within which economies can prosper".[11] The IMF feels that corruption within economies is caused by the ineffective governance of the economy, either too much regulation or too little regulation.[11] To receive loans from the IMF, countries must have certain good governance policies, as determined by the IMF, in place.[11]


The United Nations is playing an increasing role in good governance. According to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "Good governance is ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law; strengthening democracy; promoting transparency and capacity in public administration." To implement this, the UN goes follows 8 characteristics:[1][12]

  i.e the in good governance the government should base on solving the conflicts and confrontations between its citizens
  i.e in good governance the government should allow the participation of citizen in various serious and constructive state affairs
  i.e the government and its personnels should be under the law and all decisions should follow the common law of the state
  i.e the government and its officials should deal with the goals or problem of citizen effectively
  • Accountable
  • Transparent
  • Responsive
  • Equitable and Inclusive

Using these methods, the UN focuses on strengthening decolonization, localization and, human rights around the world

World Bank[edit]

The World Bank is concerned with the reform of economic and social resource control.[13] In 1992, it underlined three aspects of society that they feel affect the nature of a country's governance:[13]

  1. type of political regime;
  2. process by which authority is exercised in the management of the economic and social resources, with a view to development; and
  3. capacity of governments to formulate policies and have them effectively implemented.

Worldwide Governance Indicators[edit]

The Worldwide Governance Indicators is a program funded by the World Bank to measure the quality of governance of over 200 countries. It uses six dimensions of governance for their measurements, Voice & Accountability, Political Stability and Lack of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption. They have been studying countries since 1996.[14]


International humanitarian funding[edit]

Good governance defines an ideal that is difficult to achieve in full, though it is something development supporters consider donating to causes.[15] Major donors and international financial institutions, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank, are basing their aid and loans on the condition that the recipient undertake reforms ensuring good governance.[1] This is mostly due to the close link between poor governance and corruption.[16]


Because concepts such as civil society, decentralisation, peaceful conflict management and accountability are often used when defining the concept of good governance, the definition of good governance promotes many ideas that closely align with effective democratic governance.[9] Not surprisingly, emphasis on good governance can sometimes be equated with promoting democratic government. However, a 2011 literature review analyzing the link between democracy and development by Alina Rocha Menocal of the Overseas Development Institute stresses the inconclusiveness of evidence on this relationship.[17]


A good example of this close association, for some actors, between western democratic governance and the concept of good governance is the following statement made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Nigeria on August 12, 2009:

Again, to refer to President Obama's speech, what Africa needs is not more strong men, it needs more strong democratic institutions that will stand the test of time. (Applause.) Without good governance, no amount of oil or no amount of aid, no amount of effort can guarantee Nigeria's success. But with good governance, nothing can stop Nigeria. It's the same message that I have carried in all of my meetings, including my meeting this afternoon with your president. The United States supports the seven-point agenda for reform that was outlined by President Yar'Adua. We believe that delivering on roads and on electricity and on education and all the other points of that agenda will demonstrate the kind of concrete progress that the people of Nigeria are waiting for.

Role of political parties[edit]

Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have criticised past studies of good governance to place too little importance on developing political parties, their capacity and their ties to their grassroots supporters.[18] While political parties play a key role in well-functioning democracies, elsewhere political parties are disconnected from voters and dominated by elites, with few incentives or capabilities to increase the representation of other voters.[18] Political parties can play a key role in pivotal moments of a state's development, either negatively (e.g. organising and instigating violence) or positively (e.g. by leading dialogue in a fractured society).[18] While differences in the electoral system play their role in defining the number of parties and their influence once in power (proportional, first past the post, etc.), the funding and expertise available to parties also plays an important role not only in their existence, but their ability to connect to a broad base of support.[18] While the United Nations Development Program and the European Commission have been providing funds to political parties since the 1990s, there are still calls to increase the support for capacity development activities including the development of party manifestos, party constitutions and campaigning skills.[18]

Scholarly approaches[edit]

Nayef Al-Rodhan, in his 2009 book Sustainable History and the Dignity of Man: A Philosophy of History and Civilisational Triumph, proposed eight minimum criteria for ensuring good national governance.[19] Al-Rodhan's eight minimum criteria are: 1) participation, equity, and inclusiveness, 2) rule of law, 3) separation of powers, 4) free, independent, and responsible media, 5) government legitimacy, 6) accountability, 7) transparency, and 8) limiting the distorting effect of money in politics. In the book, he argues that good national governance is an important component in creating a history of sustainability for the human race. For Al-Rodhan, the eight minimal criteria of good governance are expressions of the fundamental values of democracy and more liberal constitutionalism.

The Tuskegee Study from 1932 to 1972 led to the signing of the National Research Act. This law outlined basic ethical ways in which research is to be carried out. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (DHEW) made regulations that required voluntary agreements for anyone who was to take part in their studies. Governance is used in scientific studies to ensure that policies are safe and ethical when studies are being done on human subjects. After the National Research Act there have been other organization put in place such as the Ethics Advisory Board, which reviews biomedical research. Many federal agencies adopted the Federal Policy for Protection of Human Rights in 1991. In 1995 President Bill Clinton established the National Bioethics Advisory Commission led by the Department of Health and Human Services with the task of reviewing regulations and policies to ensure the safety of research volunteers.[20]


According to Sam Agere, "The discretionary space left by the lack of a clear well-defined scope for what governance encompasses allows users to choose and set their own parameters."[4]

In the book Contesting 'good' governance, Eva Poluha and Mona Rosendahl contest standards that are common to western democracy as measures of "goodness" in government.[5] By applying political anthropological methods, they conclude that while governments believe they apply concepts of good governance while making decisions, cultural differences can cause conflict with the heterogeneous standards of the international community.[5]

An additional source of good governance criticism is The Intelligent Person's Guide to Good Governance, written by Surendra Munshi. Munshi's work was created in order to "revive" good governance. Many individuals tend to either wave away and be bored with the idea of governance, or not have a clue to what it has at all. This book is a generalized discussion on what the purpose of good governance is and how it serves that purpose throughout our society. Munshi targets the book toward anyone doing research or just simply "those concerned with the issue of governance".[21][page needed]

Rethinking Systems: Configurations of Politics and Policy in Contemporary Governance, written by Micheal P. Crozier, is another work analyzing good governance. Crozier's article discusses the different dynamics of changes that occur throughout communication systems and the effect it has on governance.[22] The idea of various perspectives is presented throughout the article. This allowed the reader to be able to see what contemporary governance is like through different pairs of eyes. Crozier's motive was to also create an open mindset when referring to how governance and policy within society operates, especially with the constant changes occurring day to day.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "What is Good Governance". UNESCAP, 2009. Accessed July 10, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Khan 16
  3. ^ a b c Agere 1
  4. ^ a b Agere 4
  5. ^ a b c Poluha, Eva; Rosendahl, Mona (2002). Contesting 'good' governance:crosscultural perspectives on representation, accountability and public space. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7007-1494-0.  found at Google books
  6. ^ Eaton, Tim V., and Michael D. Akers. "Whistleblowing and Good Governance". CPA Journal 77, no. 6 (June 2007): 66-71. Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 22, 2016).
  7. ^ "A User's Guide to Measuring Local Governance" UNDP
  8. ^ Macnaghten, Phil; Owen, Richard (2011-11-17). "Environmental science: Good governance for geoengineering". Nature. 479 (7373): 293–293. doi:10.1038/479293a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 22094673. 
  9. ^ a b Agere 10
  10. ^ Agere 11
  11. ^ a b c "The IMF's Approach to Promoting Good Governance and Combating Corruption — A Guide". International Monetary Fund. June 20, 2005. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  12. ^ Thomas G Weiss (2000) "Governance, good governance and global governance: Conceptual and actual challenges", Third World Quarterly, 21:5, 795-814
  13. ^ a b Agere 3
  14. ^ Kaufmann, Daniel and Kraay, Aart, "Growth Without Governance" (November 2002). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2928.
  15. ^ Agere 2
  16. ^ "The IMF and Good Governance", IMF. Accessed August 12, 2009.
  17. ^ Rocha Menocal, A. (2011) "Analysing the relationship between democracy and development", Overseas Development Institute
  18. ^ a b c d e Foresti and Wild 2010. S "Support to political parties: a missing piece of the governance puzzle". London: Overseas Development Institute
  19. ^ Al-Rodhan, Nayef R. F., Sustainable History and the Dignity of Man: A Philosophy of History and Civilisational Triumph, LIT, 2009.
  20. ^ "How Tuskegee Changed Research Practices". Center for Disease Control and Prevention, April 4, 2016.
  21. ^ Munshi, Surendra; Abraham, Biju Paul; Chaudhuri, Soma. The intelligent person's guide to good governance. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications. ISBN 9788178299310. 
  22. ^ Crozier, Micheal. "Rethinking Systems: Configurations of Politics and Policy in Contemporary Governance". SAGE Publications. 

Book sources[edit]

  • Agere, Sam (2000). Promoting good governance. Commonwealth Secretariat. ISBN 978-0-85092-629-3.  found at Google Books
  • Khan, Mushtaq Husain (2004). State formation in Palestine: viability and governance during a social transformation: Volume 2 of Political economy of the Middle East and North Africa. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-33802-8.  found at Google Books
  • Heritier, P. & Silvestri P. (Eds.), Good government, Governance, Human complexity. Luigi Einaudi's legacy and contemporary societies, Leo Olschki, Firenze, 2012.

External links[edit]