Accepted paper:

Understanding pockets of effectiveness in Ghana: a political settlement analysis

Authors:

Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai (University of Ghana Business School)

Paper short abstract:

Through the case of Ghana, this paper argues that public sector agencies can enhance their effectiveness not by isolating themselves from politics, but by cultivating 'strong political relations' and engaging in 'political bargaining' with powerful political and bureaucratic elites.

Paper long abstract:

Although Ghana has been widely hailed as a democratic success story, there is broad-based consensus that state capacity in Ghana is weak, as a vast majority of public organizations are unable to effectively perform their mandated functions. However, evidence from several datasets as well as our own expert survey show that organisations such as the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) have maintained a relatively high degree of performance during the past three decades, although this has been varied over time. In this paper, we explore the role of leadership, organizational culture and external support in accounting for this pattern, before arguing that the clearest explanation can be found through reference to the changing nature of Ghana's political settlement over time. In particular, we find strong support for the theoretical proposition that PoEs are more likely to emerge and endure under dominant political settlements than in countries characterized by competitive clientelism due to the varied degrees of elite vulnerability under these settlement types and the extent to which this shapes elite incentives in investing in bureaucratic capacities in the long-term. These findings support recent observations that in contexts of personalized forms of governance, public sector agencies can enhance their effectiveness not by isolating themselves from politics, but instead by cultivating 'strong political relations' and engaging in various forms of 'political bargaining' with powerful political and bureaucratic elites. The paper draws on official government reports, various international datasets, and over 50 key informant interviews.

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Stream:
Transnational political economies of development
State capacity and the politics of development in Africa [paper]