Governance Assessments for Local Stakeholders: What the World Governance Assessment Offers

Author: Goran Hyden, Kenneth Mease
Date: 2008
Size: 37 pages (500 kB)

Access full text: available online

How can governance assessments enhance governance as an analytical tool and a civic activation mechanism? The World Governance Assessment (WGA) is based on principles of national ownership and local consultation, and the need to strengthen monitoring institutions and diagnostic tools. This Overseas Development Institute (ODI) paper publishes findings from the WGA second round, arguing that it is uniquely placed to serve both donor and local interests. The WGA builds capacity of local researchers, provides a sense of ownership, captures local context, and allows for cross-country comparison.

Governance refers to the formation and stewardship of the formal and informal rules that regulate the public realm – the arena in which state, economic and societal actors interact to make decisions. The WGA separates the political process into six separate, yet interrelated arenas: civil society, political society, government, bureaucracy, economic society and the judiciary. The assessment relies on principles that reflect universal human values: participation, fairness, decency, accountability, transparency and efficiency.

The WGA is a dedicated, theoretically based scale that employs the same indicators and approach in each country. The second round assessments were based on 36 indicators, allowing each principle to be measured across each arena:

Surveys were administered to groups of well-informed persons (WIPs) in selected countries in all UN-designated regions of the world.
The WGA responses measured regime legitimacy as applied to the whole political system.
Six contextual variables were used to assess perceptions of governance: the separation of powers; government promotion of good governance; cultural and ethnic make-up; the role of women; government responsiveness to the poor; and budgetary transparency.
Overall there was relatively little change between perceptions of governance in 2001 and 2006. The more problematic principles related to how the state operates; principles that relate to how states interact with society generally score better.
Within each arena and principle, factors impacting perceptions of governance in different countries varied widely.
Issues relating to how government operates were found to be key in shaping perceptions of governance; the way power is constituted and distributed matters.
The WGA is the only governance assessment that tries to create an independent analysis using local country co-ordinators, and that provides a baseline for measuring performance over time. Comparative testing of reliability and validity show that the WGA is relevant for academics and policy practitioners:

WGA data can be used to explore and monitor governance issues critical to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The WGA provides perceptions of governance among both state and non-state local stakeholders.
Providing an understanding of how context influences governance allows the WGA to transcend the limits of other assessments.
The WGA builds local capacity for conducting governance assessments, enhances local ownership and serves as a valuable complement to other measures to promote better governance through civic action.
Individual level data (stripped of any identifying characteristics) is made available to the public.
The WGA is cost-effective, so allows for more extensive data collection.
Access full text: available online

Source: Hyden, G. et al., 2008, ‘Governance Assessments for Local Stakeholders: What the World Governance Assessment Offers’, Overseas Development Institute, London
Author: Goran Hyden ,
Overseas Development Institute (ODI),

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