Accepted paper:

Tanzanian Civil Servants' Negotiation of Formal Rules to Perform their Duties in Education and Health Sectors


Fortunata Makene (Economic and Social Research Foundation)

Paper short abstract:

Formal rules are replaced by practical norms due to working conditions, resource management, implementation of policies and service delivery, resulting into modification of the formal norms into practical norms. Sector-specific practical norms (education or health) were observed.

Paper long abstract:

Official or explicit norms set out legal regulations governing institutions and the services they deliver, but especially in contexts of loose government control and underfunding, these official norms are often replaced by practical norms that are informal, but no less binding. This paper compares rural and urban settings in Tanzania in an attempt to catalogue the actual practices of civil servants in education and health sectors and how they negotiate official norms in order to perform their duties. Findings reveal that that efforts to ensure conformity to professional and legal norms have proved difficult in some instances in Tanzania, with deviations (practical norms) to allow functionality with evidence from civil servants themselves. Based on evidence from the ground, the study shows that civil servants in Tanzania replace formal rules due to challenging working conditions, management of financial and human resources, actual implementation of formal policies and service provision leading to informality or modification of the formal norms. There were also sector-specific practical norms (education or health) that were observed.

panel P202
Taking rules seriously: Between formality and informality in African bureaucracies