Governance in Developing Countries: Sri Lanka and South Africa Compared

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  • International Journal of Public Administration, 34: 389398, 2011Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0190-0692 print / 1532-4265 onlineDOI: 10.1080/01900692.2011.570003

    Governance in Developing Countries: Sri Lankaand South Africa Compared

    Ramanie SamaratungeDepartment of Management, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

    Soma PillaySwinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia

    In this article, we investigate the main features of the governance model in two developingdemocracies, Sri Lanka and South Africa. We believe that these two countries are interestingtest cases for a comparative study. Both countries are former British colonies and have inher-ited a similar administrative system heavily influenced by the British colonial model and haveexperienced an ethnic conflict to different extents in the past.

    This comparison allows us to examine the determining factors for and against the levelof effectiveness of governance in both countries. The findings suggest that the socio-politi-cal system within which they operate is dynamic and is an important influence for integratedgovernance. The study concludes that the outcomes of governance in both countries are betterexplained by taking into account the features described in an integrated governance model.This provides a better understanding of the dynamics of governance in developing countries.

    Keywords: governance, Sri Lanka, South Africa, transparency


    Governance is defined as the exercise of economic, politicaland administrative authority to manage a countrys affairs atall levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes and insti-tutions through which citizens and groups articulate theirinterests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligationsand mediate their differences (UNDP, 1997, p. 2). It isabout who has power, who dominates, and how decision-makers are held accountable. It involves the process ofdecision making by allowing various segments in societyto voice their issues, implementing those decisions for thebenefit of society at large, means of conflict resolutionamong different factors and accountability for ones actionsto various stakeholders (UNESCAP, 2006, p. 4). Healthydiscussions and debate among various groupings, which aimto eventually lead to effective coordination and collaboration

    Correspondence should be addressed to Ramanie Samaratunge,Department of Management, Monash University, Victoria, 3800, Australia.E-mail:

    between them, have become a growing phenomenon in the21st century (Rosenbaum, 2006).

    Werlin (2003, p. 337) argues that the difference betweenrich countries and poor countries is that poor countries suf-fer inadequate governance rather than inadequate resources.Arguing in the same line, Hope (2009) argues that devel-oping countries need to strengthen the governance modeloperating in their countries to overcome critical problemssuch as corruption and poverty. The governments inabilityto control or mitigate corruption is the main reason for alarge scale mismanagement of resources in developing coun-tries (Boehm 2007) and (former) Secretary General KofiAnnan has pointed out that good governance is perhapsthe single most important factor in eradicating poverty andpromoting development (United Nations, 1998).

    While research conducted on governance in Organizationfor Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) coun-tries has advanced remarkably, relatively little is knownabout developing countries. The role of good governance inpromoting political stability, boosting economic growth, andalleviating of poverty is well documented (Commonwealthof Australia, 2000; Hope, 2008, 2009; UNDP, 2003).


    This governance model deserves serious consideration butremains severely under-researched. This void in the litera-ture is confirmed by Bigdon (2006), who points out that thereis limited research on context-specific testing and redefiningof good governance models in a developing country context.

    This article, therefore, has two objectives. First, it offersan analysis of how the operation of the governance model isinfluenced by unique contextual factors such as a countryshistory and politics in order to understand how these factorsinfluence the nature of the governance model in develop-ing countries, using Sri Lanka and South Africa as testcases, and whether successful models of governance couldbe replicated elsewhere. Relevant examples are drawn fromSri Lanka and South Africa. Second, we offer an analysisof integrated governance and argue that there is a need fora paradigm shift in the way the governance model operates,how it is presently perceived, and how it is managed.

    The article is organized in the following manner. First,it presents the conceptual framework of governance, fol-lowed by an overview of the contextual features of the SriLankan and South African socio-political environment. It isimportant to highlight unique features of each country tounderstand how different contextual factors influence gov-ernance and create similar outcomes in different countries.Second, the main tools of governance within the two coun-tries are examined and we offer an analysis of integratedgovernance through a systems approach. Finally, the articleconcludes with a proposed integrated model of governancefor both countries.


    We believe that Sri Lanka and South Africa are interest-ing case studies due to their unique contextual factors. Bothcountries are former British colonies and have inheriteda similar administrative system heavily influenced by theBritish colonial model.

    From a democratic point of view, Sri Lanka stands out asa case of model democracy. At the same time, the coun-try suffered under one of the most protracted civil wars inthe world [until 2009], which raises critical questions aboutthe functioning of the democratic institutions and the gov-ernance system (Bigdon, 2006, p. xi). On many occasions,international donor agencies expressed their great concernabout the countrys poor record on human rights violationand governance (Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2004;World Bank, 2000).

    South Africa, on the other hand, was able to move fromone of the worlds most repressive societies into a democ-racy through a peaceful transition which is one of the mostremarkable success stories in the 20th century. Yet SouthAfrica still suffers from high levels of crime, and concernsaround accountability, sustainable growth, and how to fightcorruption.

    Despite all these variations, there are commonalitiesbetween them. Both countries have fallen short of theirpotential and marked missed opportunities in their growthchart. South Africa is rich in natural resources such as oiland minerals but its per capita income has not been growingcompared to non-mineral countries (Sacs & Warner, 2001).Sri Lanka has a remarkably high level of human develop-ment compared to most developing countries but its percapita income is much lower than its regional competitorssuch as Malaysia and South Korea. However, both coun-tries look forward to promoting sustainable development andstrengthening social integration.

    The critical question for South Africa and Sri Lanka istherefore how to manage the key assets they posses in a waythat translates into sustainable well-being for their people.Since both abound in natural and human resources, thereare no obvious technical solutions to their management. Weargue that the main reason for this is problems with gover-nance, and a better understanding of the governance modelin each country is an important ingredient for this. Thechallenge is to make sure that there is adequate accountabil-ity by all stakeholders so that the decisions that affect theuse of these assets are in the best interests of the people.Currently, Sri Lanka and South Africa are facing significantopportunities for sustained economic growth and povertyreductionSri Lanka because of the end of the conflict,South Africa because of its recent growth turn-around. Bothhave a history of under-achievement relative to their poten-tial, so success is not guaranteed. But a comparison of thetwo histories reveals what needs to be donestrengtheningthe accountability of politicians to citizensso that thesetwo nations can seize this historic opportunity and embarkon a period of rapid economic growth and poverty reduction.


    Governance is about power, relationships and accountabil-ity and decides who influences, who makes decisions andhow different stakeholders have their say, and, more impor-tantly, how decision-makers are held accountable (Hope,2009, p. 730). Thus, it is an essential part of sustainabledevelopment and decides the level of capacity of govern-ment to formulate and implement sound public policies inan effective and efficient manner (Smith, 2007). The mod-ern process of governance in developed countries is mainlybased on the challenges of the complex and fragmentedmodern societies (Temmes et al., 2005, p. 63). Thus, therecent debate on governance focuses on how governanceoperates in society with multiple stakeholders and howdecentralization, both vertically and horizontally, could cre-ate flexible and trust based relationships among them. In thisnew paradigm, governance is based on participatory pol-icy making and a vast network comprising diverse actors


    State, Market and Civil Societyinterconnected, interdependent andinteracting as a complex evolving system




    Rule setting

    Coercive power

    Persuasive power

    FIGURE 1 Integrated governance: The three inter-related sectors of society (color figure available online).

    Source: Samaratunege, Coghill and Hearth 2008.

    and government is only one of many actors involved ingovernance (Kim et al., 2005, p. 647).

    This is a formidable challenge for developing countrieswhere centralization is the norm, and authoritarian stateswith hierarchical structures are common. The experience indeveloping countries shows that despite the recognition ofthe importance of diverse actors in policy making and imple-mentation, the significance of these actors in governancehas been largely overshadowed by excessive interference ofgovernment.

    During the 1950s and 1960s, variants of systems the-ory were used to explain how societies control and regulatethemselves using mechanisms ranging from collectivelybinding decisions to uncoordinated voluntary action. Sincethe 1950s, systems theory has advanced through varioustwists and turns toward a more finely grained understand-ing of social coordination. Although this was neither a linearnor a cumulative process, the state of knowledge overall hasbeen enhanced, in particular with respect to coordinationand adaptation in multi-layer social systems. Social systemsare modeled as multi-layer phenomena, in which the inter-actions among actors in relatively autonomous sub-systemsgenerate emergent phenomena at higher levels.

    These emergent phenomena cannot be understood bydisaggregating the systems into components or represen-tative units. Institutional theory and organizational ecol-ogy allow for both bottom-up and top-down coordination.Complex adaptive systems approaches and the related classof agent-based models emphasize bottom-up dynamics. Asthese sub-systems and the matrices of rules they build arehighly interdependent, institutional change will often beincremental and contingent upon coherent changes in othersub-systems, resulting in co-evolutionary developments.

    Systems theory has certain implications for integratedgovernance and practical policy. Time, space, the hetero-geneity of actors, and their cognitive capabilities are impor-tant factors that influence the overall dynamics of the system.Because of the highly interrelated dynamics in social sys-tems, no single actor is typically in a position to controlthe trajectory of the whole system (see Figure 1). At best,the system can be nudged in certain directions. Much workremains to be done in this area before the relative explana-tory power of systems theory is fully understood. Detailedcase studies are one avenue for future research. The devel-opment of practical implications for policymakers is anotherarea in which fruitful efforts seem feasible.

    There are three intersecting and overlapping sectors(state, market, and civil society) where governance of thecommunity is not the sole prerogative of the State but isshared among three clearly identifiable sectors (Coghill,2003). The relative power and influence of each sector is notfixed but dynamic. The relationship between agents in theState and Market sectors may have both formal and informalelements important to the operations of both sectors. Thethree sectors intersect, overlap, and intermingle; the relativepower and influence of each changes dynamically.

    Sri Lanka: The Socio-Political Context

    Sri Lanka is a unique case in many respects. First, SriLanka created world headlines in the recent past whenthe government defeated the Liberation Tigers of TamilEelam (LTTE) and ended the long-standing civil war inMay 2009. The whole country is now under democraticallyelected government after nearly three decades. It was agreat relief for the people and created a much-anticipated


    and unique opportunity for rapid development. The SriLankan government now faces the challenge of rebuildingthe nation through post-war reconstruction and reconcilia-tion. Democratic values such as accountability, trust, trans-parency, and media freedom, which were seriously erodedduring the civil war, are now expected to be re-established.It is argued that these characteristics are also a part of gov-ernance indicators and to bring about lasting peace, thesegovernance issues need to be urgently addressed (Gamage,2010; Transparency International Sri Lanka, 2009).

    Second, in the literature Sri Lanka has also been treatedas a model democracy with a classic welfare state comparedto many other developing countries. This has included anextensive system of food subsidies, universal free education,and health services. The policy framework was able to main-tain a literacy rate nearly 91 percent and life expectancyabove 70 years in a developing nation with 20 million peo-ple (Central Bank of Sri Lanka, 2008), which is a trulyremarkable achievement in a developing country context.Given a relatively high level of human development, SriLanka could thus have developed an efficient service deliv-ery system, but the reality is far from expectations. Instead,there has been a clear mismatch between these social indica-tors and the countrys per capita income, which is less thanU$2,500 (Central Bank of Sri Lanka, 2008), a figure wellbelow that of developed countries. This inconsistency has itsroots in the colonial period1 (for details see Athukorala &Jayasuriya, 1994).

    Finally, Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that hasbeen able to record positive growth rate in 2009 despite theglobal financial crisis. It was the first South Asian nationto embrace open economic policies, in the late 1970s, andis today the regions most open economy. Governance anddevelopment have seen unprecedented levels of interna-tional engagement over the last four years. Even by globalstandards, such internationalization is exceptional (Pirani &Kadirgamar, 2006, p. 1789).

    The outcome of these economic policies, however, ismixed (Kelegama, 2006). Although the development strate-gies during this period aligned with world economic policiesand the government became a generous recipient of for-eign loans and aid to boost the economy in Sri Lanka, thesedevelopment strategies did not help to overcome the mostcritical issues. The governments of the day gave scant con-sideration to the public interest when formulating changesfrom a strategic point of view. Narrow political advantage,rather than far-reaching end results, became the decidingfactor in the selection of development strategies (Pirani& Kadirgamar, 2006; Samaratunge et al., 2008a). Mostof them failed to achieve what was initially expected, notjust because the strategies were inappropriate, but chiefly

    1For almost five centuries (from 1505 to1948), Sri Lanka was under thedominance of three colonial powers, viz., Portugal, Holland, and Britain(see Kearney, 1973).

    because there was no governance system in place to encour-age better integration of the different groups involved in thedevelopment process.

    The ad hoc, piece-meal, incremental changes in the pub-lic sector hardly provided the necessary environment forrapid development and the private sector involvement wassomewhat limited in economic activities. The involvementof educated youth in the development process was restricted.Their frustration created two youth upheavals in the coun-try, the first in 1971 and the second in 1989, led by JanathaVimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which was mainly rural-based.The government crushed both groups but the country lostmillions of dollars worth resources and many young lives.

    The State of Governance in Sri Lanka

    The two basic ingredients for rapid development in anycountry are political stability and good governance. TheDeputy Prime Minister in Singapore points out that goodgovernance and strong leadership are critical elements in thebest of times. In uncertain times, they are even more imper-ative (Seng, 2009, p. 4). In the Sri Lankan context, thecountry is just emerging from 30 years of civil war, polit-ical leadership is very critical to articulating a clear visionfor how the country would move forward, and good gov-ernance is essential to re-establish democratic values whichwere gradually disappearing during the civil war.

    Sri Lanka is a unitary government with a mixture of anexecutive presidential system and a parliamentary system.The existing administrative system has five levels (national,provincial, district, divisional, and village) and has been cen-tralized since the colonial period. A top-down approach todecision-making has been a common practice. The principalfeatures of the colonial administrative model have survivedwithout any severe challenge, even though the country cel-ebrated its 62nd anniversary of independence in February2010. The multi-level administrative system in itself cre-ates certain complexities for Sri Lanka and has relevance forprocesses and outcomes. The implication is that one needsto understand the Sri Lankan social, economic, and culturalcontext to understand the challenges that are presented tointegrated governance.

    Sri Lanka attempted a range of decentralization initia-tives following the first youth insurrection in 1971 but itremains very centralized due to suspicions of the disruptiveconsequences of decentralization of power (Samaratunge,2003). The Asian Development Bank (ADB) captures theSri Lankan situation nicely: the recent post-Independenceperiod has witnessed avoidance of attempts to reform theadministration in line with changes that have occurred inthe polity and the changing expectations of the citizens(ADB, 2004, p. i). Centralization was further strengthenedby the concentration of power in the executive presidencyintroduced in 1978. In the absence of successful decen-tralization endeavors, local governments and institutions in


    Sri Lanka are no more than subordinate offices of the cen-tral government. They suffer from limited capacity andresources and depend on central government grants (seeSamaratunge et al., 2008b).

    The existing governance model in the country has openedup a large number of avenues for corruption. First, priva-tization was a popular agenda in the public sector reformsin the 1980s in Sri Lanka (Kelegama, 1998) with the bless-ing of both the World Bank and the International MonetaryFund (IMF). These international organizations provided apolicy framework in favor of privatization in Sri Lanka.The argument was that privatization of social services andreduction of government-funded welfarism would promotean effective public service (World Bank, 2000), though thiswas never realized in real terms. Instead, it has become amajor source of nepotism and opportunity for lucrative rentextraction (Dunham & Jayasuriya, 2001).

    The generous support from international donor agenciessuch as the World Bank and the ADB further cultivatedcorruption in the process of privatization and developedpatronage networks that helped senior politicians becomemore powerful (Hulme & Sanderatne, 1997). Both bureau-crats and politicians gained unofficial commissions andcorruption was institutionalized (Dunham & Jayasuriya,2001).

    The democratic process, particularly elections, was sus-pended and the reputation as a law-abiding country has grad-ually deteriorated. The media was explicitly restricted bygovernment control in the 1970s and subject to state harass-ment since the late 1980s (Hulme & Sandaratne, 1993).Independent pressure groups that focus on public finance areeither crushed or virtually non-existent. The public displayvery little interest in these matters other than in issues of anythreat to welfarism, and there is little evidence that those whoare negligent or corrupt have been punished in any signifi-cant manner. Political violence, election irregularities, abuseof power, corruption, alleged lack of transparency in busi-ness transactions, and political interference have graduallyembedded into the political landscape during the past threedecades (Hettige & Mayer, 2000). It would be a dauntingtask for any political party to re-establish a political systemwith democratic values in the future.

    The country witnessed the first presidential election in2010 as a united country after 30 years. A week after win-ning a second term of office in 2010, the countrys re-electedPresident spelled out an agenda of winning the countryseconomic war through hard work and social harmony. Inparticular, he said that I expect a public service that can takequick decisions and which is people friendly and stressedthat the nation can only be built through commitment, dis-cipline and elimination of corruption (Government of SriLanka, 2010, p. 1). These are the features of good gov-ernance, and it certainly needs a strong political will andconsiderable energy from the political leadership to achievethem.

    The pattern of civil society participation is complex.Despite the fact that popular participation at large in decisionmaking has been restricted, high voter participation is a sig-nificant characteristic of Sri Lankan politics. Some scholarsargue that a well-developed education system and long-standing regular elections certainly are factors contributingtowards high levels of participation (Kearney, 1979).

    Others, however, have questioned the credibility of thecountrys regular elections and voter participation in an erawhen all checks and balances are silenced and rendered inef-fective because transparency was reduced or extinguished(Fernando, 2002). From a good governance perspective, thequestion is why high turnover in electoral participation inSri Lanka has been limited only to electing members tothe parliament and local bodies, which eventually leadsto a governance model that is less democratic and highlycentralized.

    The countrys economic and political policy discussionswere restricted to policy architectures and the World Bankand IMF aid representatives. It never goes beyond this elitegroup to the public. Devarajan (2009, p. 9) points out thatSri Lankas inability to make full use of its human capitalis not due to the human capital itself, but due to a series ofpolicy and political market failures that constrain the countryfrom reaching its full potential.

    Although it is somewhat of a clich, Sri Lanka has expe-rienced deep and profound changes to its body politic duringthe last decade, as described above. Deep divisions andtensions remain despite the second democratic elections of2009. Practical issues of governance have become impor-tant: accountability, political stability, government effective-ness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and corruption.

    South Africa is no different. The challenges that facethese two nations are reflective of a complex system char-acterized by socio-political variables.


    White domination in South Africa prevailed for 342 years,some of it under Dutch and British colonialism and someunder indigenous Afrikaner-led apartheid. In 1994, NelsonMandela was sworn in as South Africas first democraticallyelected black president. Profound social turmoil precededthis epoch-making event. South Africa has witnessed a greatdeal of social and political turmoil throughout its history.The political transformation witnessed during this periodwas no exception. The complex South African social systemwas characterized by ethnic, class, social, racial, linguistic,and religious divisions very similar to that of Sri Lanka.

    With many names, such as separate development, cul-tural autonomy, and self determination, proponents ofapartheid tried to freeze ethnicity as a permanent featurein South African society. Even after the emergence of the


    new democracy, the Human Rights Commission report onracism in the South African public media (Venter, 1998)highlighted racial divisions on a large scale. Far from eradi-cating racism, the political changes since 1994 enabled blackSouth Africans to put the issue on the public agenda and toinsist that steps to eradicate racism be undertaken throughintegrated governance. This in turn led to a white-led oppo-sition that argued, among other things, that the governmentlaws regarding affirmative action were leading to a new formof racial division: South African whites had to stand backmerely on the grounds of skin color when competing forjobs.

    A significant point to be made in this regard is that thevarious race groups have different conceptual frameworksof integrated governance in response to this socio-politicalchallenge. South African whites tend to use a liberal frame ofreference focusing on the freedom of individuals to competeand be judged on merit, while black South Africans tend totake the position that they have been disadvantaged by seg-regationist policies of successive white political authorities(Venter, 1998). These two frameworks are very difficult toreconcile and often lead to misunderstandings and ongoingconflict.

    The 1994 election introduced South Africas firstConstitution. This was one of the worlds most elaboratedemocracies in terms of accountability and decentralizedgovernance. This resulted in the introduction of two broadtools of governance:

    i. the Constitution of 1996; andii. the Batho Pele document, White Paper on Transfor-

    mation of the Public Service (Republic of SouthAfrica, 1997).

    In South Africa, the constitution of 1996 has provided anindispensable mechanism for South African national pub-lic servants to address the concept of integrated governance.This is reflective of an overall commitment to greater open-ness and transparency in governmentas opposed to thesecretive and unresponsive culture that characterized publicadministration during the apartheid regime (Venter, 1998).South African experiences over the years have made societyacutely aware of the dangers of a government that is neithertransparent nor accountable.

    The constitutions basic values and principles governingpublic administration include accountable public adminis-tration and the promotion of a high standard of professionalethics (Auriacombe, 2009). To this end the South Africanconstitution contains several mechanisms to ensure that gov-ernment will be part of solution, rather than being part ofthe problem. Public awareness and participation in maintain-ing efficiency in government are vital to making a realityof democracy in South Africa (Mandela, 1996; Wessels &Pauw, 1999). This is imperative because public servants areat the coalface of service delivery.

    What is therefore contemplated in the constitution is atransformed public service within the broader context ofdemocratic transformation and good governance.

    The White Paper on Transformation of the Public Service(WPTPS), strongly signaled the governments intention toadopt an integrated governance approach, informed by theeight principles of consultation, service standards, access,courtesy, information, openness and transparency, redress,and value for money (Pillay, 2008). In line with constitu-tional principles, the WPTPS provided a framework thatenabled government to develop strategies promoting goodpublic administration (RSA, 1997).

    In realizing the principles of the Batho Pele, four cat-egories of initiatives were classified by Diphofa (2002)as promoting integrated governance: change drivers whichrequire efforts that seek to transform and improve the back-office operations of the South African (national) publicserviceincluding the improvement of systems, work pro-cesses, and institutional structures that collectively makeservice delivery possible. It seeks to transform and improvethe front-office operations of government: the actual inter-face between government and the public, representing howthe public experiences government. Internal communica-tion channels, involving efforts to promote communicationwithin government about service-delivery transformation,are improved and the critical role that the public serviceplays in the lives of citizens is enhanced. This in turnimproves working relationships. Such efforts also includefocusing on external communicationto inform and buildawareness among citizens as to their rights and reasonableexpectations in service delivery.

    The Reconstruction and Developmental Policy (RDP)was another developmental opportunity through which thepublic sector would play a key role in alleviating inequalityand promoting integrated governance. The RDP favored aparticipatory and stakeholder-driven approach in which gov-ernance was not just about delivering goods to a passivecitizenry, but rather an all embracing effort.

    The State of Governance in South Africa

    Despite these attempts, concerns about public-sector gover-nance in South Africa have intensified in recent years (Pillay,2008). Calls for greater efficiency and transparency havebeen driven by the realization that poor governance in theSouth African public sector reinforces the unequal distri-bution of opportunities and that poor governance threatensdemocracy.

    According to Fitzgerald, Cranko, and Cashdan (inFitzgerald, McLennan, & Munslow, 1997), South Africa isstructured and managed in accordance with outdated princi-ples and methods, highlighting poor governance. There is arule-driven bureaucracy. The South African public service ispremised on a highly complex set of rules and procedures


    that are entrenched in various policies. The basic assump-tion is that the workplace must be managed via regulation.Performance is therefore measured in terms of adherence tothe rules rather than the achievement of results. Thereforethere is little incentive for creativity. There is corruptionand the mismanagement of resources. The South Africanbureaucracy has operated in an ethical vacuum where theillegitimacy of the state has been consolidated into a cultureof personal gain and misappropriation of funds.

    Considering the dynamics of the South African environ-mental context, we maintain that institutional and manage-ment practices are best understood by considering nationalculture and social institutions, and that the institutionaland management process cannot be disentangled from itscultural context. There is poor and outdated management.Management techniques in the public service have notalways considered international thinking, thus emphasizingadministration rather than management. Often managementstyles are considered authoritarian, rigid, and inflexible andmore concerned with adherence to regulations than qual-ity. There is lack of accountability. Where accountability isacknowledged, it is practiced as bureaucratic accountabil-ity (where employees are held accountable upwards via ahierarchy for conforming to rules). While there has been aninternational shift towards operational accountability (wherestate employees are more accountable directly to end users,e.g. citizens), this is yet to be practiced in South Africa tothe desired extent.

    There is lack of transparency. Often information is con-centrated in the hands of senior officials with front-lineworkers denied access to information on which key deci-sions are based. This has negative consequences on theaccountability of government and the ability of citizensto participate in governance. There is a de-skilled hierar-chy of jobs. The organizational structure and salary scalesof the public service, coupled with extremely detailed jobdefinitions, have de-skilled jobs lower down the hierarchy,and resulted in disempowered and demoralized front-lineworkers and employee relations.

    The legislative and institutional framework governingemployee relations is inadequate for a public service of overa million people. Contributing factors are poor coordinationbetween the employer and the public service commissionwhich is the body responsible for negotiating conditions ofservice. However, as political democracy becomes more ofa reality now, workers tend to strive to be more involved inmanagement decisions.

    The political and social pressures of the SouthAfricanization of the public service have influenced inte-grated governance significantly. Symbolically as well asfunctionally there is an evident need for institutional struc-tures to be seen to reflect integrated governance at alllevels. This requires that the public service become moreentrepreneurial, more oriented towards social and develop-mental partnerships and more transparent.

    There is a clear need for a strategy of integrated gover-nance aimed at creating a system capable of implementingdevelopmental policies for a democratic government.

    A Systems Approach to Integrated Governance in SriLanka and South Africa

    We have chosen to examine integrated governance from asystems perspective as it is a useful way to visualize the insti-tutional environment as an integrated whole. Open systemstheory provides the most useful framework for understand-ing South African and Sri Lankan transformation. Systemstheory essentially argues that the whole is best understood asthe product of the interactions and transactions between con-stituent parts of the whole (Johnson, Kast, & Rosenzweig,1964). This holistic understanding is useful to the under-standing of the systemic elements of transformation.

    It therefore allows recognition of the influence of sub-systems on the whole system. As was described in theforegoing sections, South Africa and Sri Lanka are complexsocieties. As such, within the Sri Lankan and South Africancontext, integrated governance should be seen as comprisingthree interlinked processes (3Rs):

    Restructuring: This is the replacement of structureswith new structures;

    Reorganization: This refers to a process of changingsystems, culture, and practices that are the content ofstructures; if these are not changed, the result may benew structures that operate in the old ways; and

    Rationalization: This is the process of streamliningthe size and the productivity of staff so that humanresource costs are commensurate with the value of theoutput of the organization.

    Restructuring, reorganization and rationalization takeplace within a system that has interrelated parts workingin conjunction with each other in order to achieve multi-ple goals (See Figure 2). Managers and managerial tools areneeded to convert disorganized resources into an effectiveenterprise.

    What is clearly required is a strategy-led process thattransforms existing structures, systems, and processes intoan integrated system of governance, capable of implement-ing and executing the policies to encourage sustainablegrowth. In terms of strategic management reforms and re-engineering in South Africa and Sri Lanka, a mixed picturehas presented itself. While in both countries, in certaindepartments, considerable efforts have been made and clearefficiency and rationalization gains have become evident,within other parts of each nation, and other departmentslittle progress has been observed, with little or no address-ing of institutional issues, which would be fundamentalto change, reform, and improvement in governance andmaterial progress.


    Integrated governance

    democratizing devolution incorporatingwork process of power civil society

    into governance

    3Rs Restructuring Reorganization Rationalization

    FIGURE 2 Integrated governance with 3Rs.

    This lack of attention is in addition to enduring pat-terns of gross maladministration, inefficiency, and chaos.There can be no question that the issue of performance willnot only stay on the governments agenda, but will rise inimportance as the new political elite increasingly realizesthat new democratic policies do not deliver themselves andthat institutional performance, as opposed to lofty rhetoric,constitutes integrated governance.

    Integrated Governance

    The role of political leadership in Sri Lanka and SouthAfrica in managing the relationship between governmentand civil society will be a crucial component in shifting froma bureaucratic administration to representative administra-tion. Integrated governance involves active cooperation andongoing engagement in the process of policy formulationand implementation between various stakeholders (Khan,1998). Such engagement serves to ensure that the practi-cal mechanism through which this conception of governanceis realized is via a reconceptualized policy process. Thismeans breaking away from the traditional regime-driven pol-icy process to one where there is a multiplicity of negotiateddeterminants of the problem identification, formulations ofpolicy principles, setting of objectives, and the formulationof an implementation strategy.

    The way this is done, and the inputs at different points inthe process, are the nuts and bolts of integrated governance,as illustrated in Figure 2.

    Strategic Management

    The process of strategic management takes place at theinterface between political leadership and management

    (Fitzgerald et al., 1997). Strategic management is aboutaligning and realigning the objectives, outputs and activitiesof the different components of the organization. It thereforebridges administrative and political transformation.

    Change Management

    Change management is essentially concerned with the inter-face between management and the delivery of services, thatis, the processes through which policy directives are turnedinto programs and implemented, work processes, and linesof accountability.

    Management of Service Delivery

    While developing a strategic vision for government, itis imperative to incorporate a service delivery managementfunction into the process of administrative transformation.This is largely concerned with the day-to-day operationalissues.

    The interconnectedness can be represented throughFigure 3. The process of transformation into a strategicallymanaged developmental administration requires interven-tion on many levels. The institutional environment mustbe reconfigured, at the least, and reformed at best, toensure an integrated approach that links and directs socio-political demands, constitutional change (to embed institu-tional features in a reformed structure), recognition of thereal financial constraints that are likely to apply, and theservice demands of citizens with, first, structures, systems,and workplace and bureaucratic culture, then to the deliv-ery mechanisms, outcomes, and working relationships, andfinally to what is actually delivered (services, communitybuilding), development processes, and reconstruction (seeFigure 3). This is a complex, interlocking set of relationships


    Institutional environment

    Systems Results

    Socio-political needsConstitutional changeFinancial constraintsService demands

    Structures Departments ServicesCommunity buildingDevelopment processesReconstruction

    Culture Working Relationships

    FIGURE 3 Institutional environment based on the integrated approach.

    and processes in which no step can be omitted or weakenedwithout consequential weakness to the approach as a whole.

    The integrated governance model thus focuses on democ-ratizing work processes, devolution of power, and incorpo-rating civil society into governance. This also implies thatbureaucratic rigidities need to be loosened through the par-ticipation of various stakeholders. The governance modelcreates a strong policy-making and planning group at thecentre. It advocates a strong front-line organization withdevolved decision-making power and centralized operations.

    In the South African context, the strategic managementteam comprising various stakeholders should come togetherin structured forums to set the policy framework for planningand implementation. This model requires that a commitmentto the strategic vision and values of the organization perme-ate the critical masses. Existing cultures and practices in theSri Lankan and South African bureaucracies are shaped bya rigid control-oriented framework which clashes with therequirements of the governance model. If elements of theintegrated governance model were to be adopted, it wouldbe necessary to focus change interventions on a cultural aswell as on a structural level.


    The examination of the governance model of Sri Lankaand South Africa suggests that despite the unique contex-tual factors between two countries, there are significantcommonalities in their governance model.

    Both benefit and also, to an extent, suffer from a coloniallegacy of adherence to process that has imposed constraintsrather than developed to meet new challenges. Both haveinherited institutions that in their developed forms in theoriginal model, in the United Kingdom, have adapted tomeet modern changes and have also accepted a growingtrend to devolution of powers, civil society participation,and broader, constantly expanding (if unevenly) attachmentto the importance of notions of accountability and trans-parency. Executive power and bureaucratic power have notonly had to come to terms with one another but also withthe ultimate source of their legitimacy, the popular man-date, exercised through free, regular, democratic elections.Where such a mechanism is weakened, as in Sri Lanka in the

    civil war period, the institutions that rest upon the consent ofthe governed are also weakened and, concomitantly, powerreconcentrates at the centre and at multiple, competingbureaucratic and political levels.

    The complexity this presents arises from the interactionof significant factors such as institutions that are requiredto address history, legacy, practices, culture, demands forredress of real and perceived historically based grievancesand inequities, the costs that redistribution must inevitablyimpose on any society, and the challenge to ensure that anyreforms are securely embedded in a reformed polity. Withoutdeep understanding of the underlying socio-political context,superficial attempts to improve governance by attending to afew or some features of governance failure will not delivergovernance improvement that is at the heart of developingcountry needs. The broad lesson we draw in this articleis that context is everything, but that context can oftenshow shared features that allow complementary observationsabout superficially very different societies in developingcountries.


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