Governance in Developing Countries: Sri Lanka and South Africa Compared

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<ul><li><p>International Journal of Public Administration, 34: 389398, 2011Copyright Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLCISSN: 0190-0692 print / 1532-4265 onlineDOI: 10.1080/01900692.2011.570003</p><p>Governance in Developing Countries: Sri Lankaand South Africa Compared</p><p>Ramanie SamaratungeDepartment of Management, Monash University, Victoria, Australia</p><p>Soma PillaySwinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>Keywords: governance, Sri Lanka, South Africa, transparency</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>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</p><p>Correspondence should be addressed to Ramanie Samaratunge,Department of Management, Monash University, Victoria, 3800, Australia.E-mail: ramanie.samaratunge@monash.edu</p><p>between them, have become a growing phenomenon in the21st century (Rosenbaum, 2006).</p><p>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).</p><p>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).</p></li><li><p>390 SAMARATUNGE AND PILLAY</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>JUSTIFICATION FOR COUNTRY SELECTION</p><p>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.</p><p>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).</p><p>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.</p><p>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 &amp; 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.</p><p>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.</p><p>THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: SYSTEMSTHEORY AND INTEGRATED GOVERNANCE</p><p>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</p></li><li><p>GOVERNANCE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES 391</p><p>State, Market and Civil Societyinterconnected, interdependent andinteracting as a complex evolving system</p><p>MARKET</p><p>STATE</p><p>CIVILSOCIETY</p><p>Rule setting </p><p>Coercive power </p><p>Persuasive power </p><p>FIGURE 1 Integrated governance: The three inter-related sectors of society (color figure available online).</p><p>Source: Samaratunege, Coghill and Hearth 2008.</p><p>and government is only one of many actors involved ingovernance (Kim et al., 2005, p. 647).</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>Sri Lanka: The Socio-Political Context</p><p>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</p></li><li><p>392 SAMARATUNGE AND PILLAY</p><p>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).</p><p>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 &amp;Jayasuriya, 1994).</p><p>Finally, Sri Lanka is one of the f...</p></li></ul>