This paper conceptualizes governance and provides a framework for assessing governance quality in comparative perspective based upon governance outcomes. It surveys the composite indexes on quality of governance and provides an in depth review of the widely used Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs). This review concludes that WGIs use state of the art aggregation techniques but fail on most fundamental considerations. They lack a conceptual framework of governance and use flawed and biased primary indicators that mostly capture Western business perspectives on governance processes using one-size-fits-all norms about such processes. They almost completely neglect citizens’ evaluations of governance outcomes reflecting any impacts on the quality of life. These primary deficiencies and changing weights, respondents and criteria lead us to conclude that the use of such indicators in cross-country and time series comparisons could not be justified. Such use is already complicating the development policy dialogue and creating much controversy and acrimony. These findings, however, should not be a cause for despair as assessing governance quality is an important task and must be undertaken with care. To this end, this paper lays out a conceptual framework which stresses that governance quality for comparative purposes is most usefully assessed by focusing on key governance outcomes capturing the impact of governments on the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens. These assessments should preferably be based on citizens’ evaluations. Such evaluations are not only feasible but also would be more credible and conducive for meaningful and productive development policy dialogues on improving governance quality.
Iqbal, Kazi and Anwar Shah. (2008). “How Do Worldwide Governance Indicators Measure Up? ”,Unpublished paper, World Bank, Washington D.C.
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