The Role of Ownership and Political Steering for Development Results 1

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1 The Role of Ownership and Political Steering for Development Results 1 Or: The Art of Smarter Implementation Sarah Frenken, Margarete Jacob, Ulrich Müller, Albrecht Stockmayer How are development results achieved and what is the role of policies and strategies in achieving development results? What is the role of ownership and political steering in linking policies and results? What role can development cooperation play in this context? These are key questions when moving from the aid effectiveness agenda to the more comprehensive agenda of development effectiveness. While recognising that any answer to these questions needs to be tailored to the very specific (country) context in which development cooperation takes place, some entry points can be defined for discussion of more thoughtful external assistance. The Non-linear Nature of Development and Implementation Processes Most of the current policy debates in the international development community focus on results. The underlying assumption is that good policies will lead to good institutions which will, in turn, automatically generate good development results. The reasoning is as follows: if only the right results are defined in the frame of a policy commitment, and if the necessary financial means are at the disposal of the development actors, then the pre-defined aid effects will follow. Subsequently, impacts of development cooperation can be measured against pre-determined criteria, in quantitative terms when possible. The Accra Agenda for Action and the Paris Declaration are generally associated with this rather simplistic causal link between policies and results. 1 This contribution, as an editorial to the present volume, gives an overview of the topic and short references on all texts included. All texts are based on presentations in two international conferences on Ownership (London, April 2009) and Political Steering (Berlin, November 2009) that were organized by GTZ in case of the London conference together with the London School of Economic (LSE) and Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) within the context of the internal GTZ project: "Capacity Development and Governance Effectiveness in Asia and Latin America". Additionally some texts are cited which other participants of the two conferences (Nilima Gulrajani, Christian von Haldenwang, Werner Jann, Kate Meagher and Kai Wegrich) have already published in other places and which round out the picture conveyed through the contributions in this volume. 9

2 However, praxis teaches us that we cannot be sure of outcomes, nor can we rely on the link between policies and outcomes, or that these outcomes can be attributed to legitimate politicians. Even more disturbing than the belief in causal relationships between policies and aid results is the foregone conclusion that development can be managed in this way (Gulrajani 2009). The belief that development processes can only be shaped according to the approaches of external actors and state actors; by their objectives, rules and practices, has proven to be a shortcoming. Development needs to look beyond the restricted area of state institutions and to consider all the relevant actors; not only because state actors are often not capable of undertaking their own transformation processes, but also because, in many cases, the social consensus may be weak or may have to be re-established after conflicts and crises; such consensus is necessary in order to ensure that outputs are generated and that they are subsequently accepted as the products of transparent policies. Thus, some of the widespread assumptions in the international development debate inadequately take into account the complexity of real development processes and of capacity development. In practice and in the context of monitoring and evaluation exercises, it has been found over the years that the link between policies and results is, in most cases, neither direct nor causal. In reality, development outcomes do not automatically result from wide and ambitious programmes. This observation has provoked considerable criticism regarding the validity of the policies which currently dominate the international development debate. More and more development actors active on the ground are making the argument that the missing link between policies and results may not only reveal deficiencies in day-to-day operational work, but may also indicate that the underlying assumptions are invalid. The concept of steering development from above by attributing superior powers to the finance and budget function in government, in most cases centralised in the Ministry of Finance, is neither effective nor desirable. Effectiveness and coherence will not result from a steering and management model that has not led to sustainable transformation results in other parts of the world. Neither the planning exercises of the 60s and 70s, nor the trend towards budget support in the 90s and beyond, are capable of providing the impetus and direction which development needs in order to become sustainable. The present volume illustrates these observations and uses them as a starting point for further debate. Its most important underlying assumption is that, given the complex nature of transformation and reform processes, the character of implementation is neither direct nor linear. Development is based on the contributions of many actors and, in most cases, does not rely on the public sector alone. Rather, it is driven by many different kinds of leadership provided by diverse groups of actors. Accordingly, these processes cannot follow one single model. The actors involved continue to learn, and processes are therefore characterised by the necessity of reconsidering, readjusting and readapting at the level of policy making, particularly during those stages which are collectively referred to as implementation. 10

3 A blinkered focus on pre-determined results may impede the attention development actors pay to the details of the process. It is argued here that the emphasis of the debate needs to be shifted from a narrow focus on results to transformation processes. Development actors need to recognise that in order to achieve sustainable development results more will be needed than the right policies and a hierarchical process. Additionally, the findings of political and administrative scientists, who have been seeking to gain a more profound understanding of policies and implementation, need to be integrated into our development concepts. As Christoph Beier, Managing Director of GTZ, put it in 2009 in London on the occasion of the GTZ-LSE-SDCorganised conference 'Beyond Accra: Practical Implications of Ownership and Accountability in National Development Strategies' (Beier 2009): managing development cooperation successfully means having an understanding of the relevant networks of actors, and involving them in the direction of management processes. Beier suggests that modalities, including the ongoing debate on a new aid architecture 2, need to be examined as to whether they are compatible with these requirements. Modalities should lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of political processes and to the development of the capacities that will, in the end, be responsible for development outcomes. These arguments, which come from an increasing number of development actors, converge with findings in administrative and political science that there is a general discrepancy between a normative demand for rational decisions and the reality of bounded rationality. Forty years of implementation research have underlined the impossibility of perfect implementation, particularly under conditions of high process complexity (Jann and Wegrich 2009). Given that perfect rationality in reality is rarely given and therefore cannot form the basis for policies and development processes, gradual and incremental approaches towards implementation and reform are called for. Merilee S. Grindle's examination of development outcomes which succeed "despite the odds" (Grindle 2001) brings into question the value of overly focusing on complex policy packages with long-term objectives while overlooking the process dimension of development, with its plurality of actors and preferences. Another point to consider is that the necessity of navigating between different implementation strategies also raises doubts regarding the value of focusing on reaching pre-determined results. At the GTZ-organized conference 'How to Manage the Unmanageable? Supporting Political Steering for Development Results' in 2009 in Berlin Kai Wegrich outlined three ideal types of implementation strategies: the managerial approach, the governance approach and the regulatory state response. In the managerial approach emphasis is placed on the control of outcomes rather than processes, and direction of implementation is primarily top-down. The governance approach focuses on engaging all relevant stakeholders in decision-making and implementation. The regulatory state response proposes allocating scarce resources to 2 On the current debate see for instance UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs: World Economic and Social Survey 2010: Retooling Global Development. 11

4 the most needed areas. The three different strategies vary considerably in their foci and assumptions. During the course of implementation elements of all three can be used in parallel, or may even be combined. However, the combination may also generate tensions which need to be managed in the course of any transformation process. This is particularly true for development cooperation where, on the one hand, values and the sustainability of reforms are stressed, but at the same time, there is an overriding need to reach clear results quickly in order to satisfy the conditions of financiers. Looking beyond the understanding of the nature of policy processes, Nilima Gulrajani (2010) conceptualises the need for non-managerial approaches for development cooperation; approaches which should be characterized by an emphasis on constructing organisations, by improvised political steering rather than planned social engineering, and by professional reflexivity of development actors. Given these various challenges, decision makers do not necessarily seek the most effective and most sustainable of all possible solutions, rather, they search for a solution which is 'good enough', while navigating through the local political landscape, the constraints imposed by external actors and the necessity of reconciling different implementation strategies. This is as true of decision makers in OECD countries as it is in the developing world. A "science of muddling through" (Lindblom 1959) is practised, which consists, inter alia, of incrementalism, partisan mutual adjustment, trial and error, and adjustment of goals to means. It cannot guarantee full inclusiveness of actors, it may overlook important planning alternatives, or even interests, which would have been part of a grand design and strategy, yet 'muddling through' is more than a capitulation to the complexity of planning and implementation. It allows for learning en route, for responding to opportunities when they arise, and for developing alternatives in the face of dominant oligopolies. All contributions in this volume address topics related to the logic of development processes sketched above, and to the necessity that development cooperation understands them and relates to them. They are not intended to form a coherent picture but should rather be seen as pieces of a mosaic; one which considers the same topic from the different points of view and backgrounds of the authors. Markus Steinich relates the challenges presented above to the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, giving broad references to the contributions of Werner Jann und Kai Wegrich during the Berlin Conference 'How to Manage the Unmanageable? Supporting Political Steering for Development Results'. Based on his analysis, he makes recommendations on how to improve the understanding of political processes in partner countries and how to deal with the challenges of policy implementation. Annette and Uwe Mummert, synthesising a study carried out on behalf of GTZ, analyse the success factors for strategic development management based on four existing studies on the topic. They distinguish four dimensions of strategic develop- 12

5 ment management: the political dimension; the technical dimension; the capacity dimension and the assistance dimension. Finally they give some guidelines for donors' support to national development strategies. The Ownership Challenge in the Context of Development Processes Perhaps the central tenet of the Paris and Accra agenda is ownership. In a world constituted of donors and recipient countries the latter should be the 'owners' of their development and should be in the 'driver's seat'. In fact, the term ownership, formerly also called commitment, has been used in development cooperation for a long time, 3 but recently its use has become prevalent again. The way it has been used during the last year has contributed to detract from the idea that development is a social and political process firmly entrenched in local structures rather than a technical process which can be transplanted or instigated from the outside. Conflating ownership with budgets has turned it into a process driven by treasuries. While negotiations over the apportionment of scarce resources are, by their very nature, political processes, providing external finance to the budget and expecting that the budget will then follow certain guiding principles certainly isn't. The latter is based on technocratic thinking, on the idea that processes involving central institutions should prevail over those involving other players; the idea that development is a process following principles of effectiveness and efficiency. Ownership is then considered to be a status rather than a qualitative process which needs to be created in order to secure wider acceptance and legitimacy among a wider circle of relevant actors. Nevertheless power, resources, interests, values and beliefs are the principal drivers of ownership. Mobilising actors and getting them on board with transformation processes requires long-term engagement and resources. Achieving broad based and deep ownership is a process that has its ups and downs. Not all donors may wish to play a supporting role to ownership understood in that way, accepting the vagaries of the political process and the sometimes adverse fate of drivers of change. However, disregarding this process in favour of ever more finely tuned conditionality, highly refined process monitoring and performance auditing, and, most of all, promoting technical and often quantitative criteria as pointers for the success of transformation processes, leads development cooperation to a dead-end. 4 During the GTZ-LSE-SDC conference 'Beyond Accra: Practical Implications of Ownership and Accountability in National Development Strategies' in 2009 in London, Kate Meagher emphasized that the new aid regime generated by the paradigm of aid effectiveness has not enhanced cooperation between donors and recipient 3 See e.g. Heaver and Israel (1986): "the commitment of the Borrower to implementation is widely recognised as one of the key factors affecting project performance". 4 See Collier (1999): "The IFIs have radically overestimated their own power in attempting to induce reform in very poor policy environments. They have, in effect, ignored domestic politics." 13

6 governments. Rather, it has provoked the emergence of a growing range of contradictions in development policy. In order to overcome these contradictions, her suggestion is that recipient governments be given the right to pursue their own development strategies, even if these deviate from the agenda of donors. Building on experiences in the Drivers of Change approach AusAID has set up The Leadership Programme: Developmental Leaders, Elites and Coalitions. This programme seeks to acquire a "deeper understanding of the critical role of leadership in shaping development outcomes through high quality research and analysis". In the context of the programme leadership is understood as "a political process that involves the capacity to mobilise people and resources and to forge coalitions in the pursuit of positive development goals." 5 In their article Jana Leutner und Ulrich Müller define ownership as being an unstable process bounded between two barriers: chaos, which results from unlimited participation; and repression, which results from insufficient or non-existent participation. They suggest that the existence of well-functioning political organisations, institutions and systems helps to improve ownership by creating an atmosphere conducive to policy dialogue and thus should be supported by donors. Additionally, several reflections on the gap between strategy and implementation and some food for thought on the concept of harmonisation are given. Teddy (E.A.) Brett focuses on the difficulties donor agencies encounter when working in countries with governments that do not act in the best interests of the majority of their citizens, and that are opposed to the donors' home-governments. He describes how the shift towards public participation in donors' policies has resulted in unintended consequences. Emphasising the importance of representative organisations which encompass society as a whole, he shows how under-represented parts of the population evade or modify the reigning rules. In his opinion, donors should seek to strengthen representative organisations with the aim of increasing participation and ownership. Jörg Faust and Johannes Schmitt critically analyse the notion of democratic ownership as a precondition for policy intervention. Especially highlighted is the problematic assumption that an encompassing consensus prevails among a country's political actors in emerging democracies and that democratic processes can be steered by long-term plans. In development assistance they perceive a tendency towards simplistic interpretations of participatory and communitarian concepts of democracy that are at odds with evidence of competition over policy reforms in OECDdemocracies. Instead of idealising ownership they demand to enhance transparency as a prerequisite for mutual accountability, to accept the experimental and iterative character of democratic political processes and to craft harmonized process conditionality but avoid planning euphoria. 5 The Leadership Program Developmental Leaders, Elites and Coalitions (http://www.lpdlec.org/contents/about-us.php) was invited to participate in the Berlin Conference on Political Steering. Time constraints did not allow that participation to take place, but cooperation between GTZ and AusAID on the topic has now been established. 14

7 Kathrin Seelige's article about the Indian biodiesel sector highlights that ownership in policy setting and ownership in policy implementation do not follow the same rules and criteria. In order to be successful and enhance ownership, a policy targeted at the development of an industrial sector should focus on all positions on the value chain, should take into account the needs of all affected people, and should inform these people about the potential benefits of the policy. Sheila Hughes of the South African Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs describes how the experiences of implementing the Local Government Turnaround Strategy in South Africa illustrate the different obstacles in designing an effective and credible government policy. Various approaches to overcome the obstacles are described for the specific South African context. Furthermore, it is pointed out that global partnerships have to be analysed according to their impact on country-specific conditions. Joyce Nyamweya of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and former Permanent Secretary Cabinet Office in the Office of the President of Kenya, highlights challenges and successes in Public Sector Reforms in Africa. The main part of her contribution relates to Kenya's Public Sector Reform , with its strong emphasis on putting the people in the centre of attention of public services. She shows that ownership is enhanced by making people owners of policies through the taxes they pay. GTZ's Emerging Approach towards Political Steering: Smarter Implementation In order to cope constructively with the challenges of non-linear development processes and to support ownership in its practical work, GTZ has, over the past months, been working on developing a more sophisticated approach towards political management, or, as GTZ puts it, political steering. This approach takes as a given the necessity of 'muddling through' under conditions of uncertainty and bounded rationality, but regards this apparent vice as a virtue. Rather than trying to create linear processes, the approach seeks to make use of incrementalism and bounded rationality in order to advance development processes through "piecemeal engineering" (Popper 1945). In this sense, political steering is understood as the operative management of political transformation and reform processes, involving all relevant stakeholders, and the strategic management and adjustment of processes, instruments and procedures according to future needs. It is seen as a way of bridging the gap between policy and practice by proceeding on the basis of development cooperation's reality rather than hypothetical situations defined in policy commitments. Political Steering should be conceived of from a partner country government point of view, and should be based on the assumption that political steering can, and should only ever, be undertaken by a partner country`s government in order to im- 15

8 plement complex transformation processes more sustainably. However, there is potential space for external advice in capacity development. The most important role that external advisers can play in supporting the steering of political processes is in supporting the capacity of domestic actors with respect to how they can best put into practice their own development objectives. The external adviser can thus provide support for the establishment of a link between the arenas of policy setting and policy implementation, essentially acting as a manager from the outside. Their most important challenge would be to gain a profound knowledge of the partner countries' political system without getting involved in domestic politics. At the same time, the external adviser would need to make explicit the values which represent the guiding lines of their advisory practice; for example, respect for democratic principles. Providing such explicitly value-based advice, an approach advocated at the Berlin conference by Friedrich Kitschelt, Director General of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, enables partner governments to adopt a more conscious approach in putting certain values into practice. Marianne Alker and Christian von Haldenwang (2009) point to the fact that these reflections may lead to the necessity of defining a new type of policy adviser. They point to the potential for advice which extends across the whole policy cycle. Such advice is bound up with complex role expectations and needs to create links between knowledge networks in the partner countries and at the international level. In his article, Neil Hatton defines more general requirements for a management model in the field of development cooperation. In order to reach sound management decisions such a model must focus on the people involved, on the communication within and about development work, and on the professionalization of staff and partners. The underlying purpose of such a model is to enable implementation to be perceived as a flexible and reflective process. More specifically, in order to operationalise the concept of political steering, external advisers can play a key role in supporting a partner institution by developing a Smart Implementation Strategy. The essential idea of such a strategy is that it takes the non-linear nature of development processes as a starting point and tries to handle the process of 'muddling through' as best possible. While focusing on processes rather than on results, a Smart Implementation Strategy assumes that there may be certain variables, or pillars, which facilitate the management of implementation processes. However, given the need for sound context specific consideration, these pillars can only be defined in a generic way; their content in different country contexts can only be determined after consideration of the actual situation. Depending on the specific context, the four pillars of a Smart Implementation Strategy are: 1) The need for political analysis to assess the political economy of reform processes throughout (interests of institutions/ agency). The value of this pillar has been especially apparent in the context of an Indonesian-German collaboration on Social Protection Reform in Indonesia, as Johanna Knoess illustrates in her 16

9 article. The reform process was not dealt with in a technocratic manner, but rather took stakeholder interests, institutional settings and timing into account; all of these factors contributed to its positive outcome. 2) The necessity of the management of the tensions between different implementation strategies (managerial, regulatory state response, governance, see page 11). The need for flexible management is pointed out in Dieter Schimanke's article on reform of public administration in Ukraine. Shifts in responsibilities, power and interests during the intervention caused difficulties. These difficulties might have been overcome by flexible project management which is aware of the tensions of different management models. Pillar two is closely related to pillar three, which highlights the need for the adjustment of objectives in the course of complex political processes. 3) The need for constant mapping and monitoring of reform processes, and the adjustment of objectives. The impact of monitoring on the positive outcome of a reform process is particularly reflected in Ambroise Codjo Agbota's and Helen Haile's article on participatory local monitoring methodology which monitored whether an increased government budget resulted in better services. Engaging with the affected population in the implementation, planning and monitoring of public services also allowed for greater ownership in the process. 4) The need for reflective management based on guiding questions. In their article, Diego Avila and Dieter Kattermann focus on the role of external support in the Bolivian constitutional reform and the need for reflective management of the process. The difficulties for, and challenges to, technical assistance in a highly political context with conflicting interests are outlined; proceeding from this selected impacts of the intervention and lessons subsequently learned are described. References Beier, Christoph (2009). Ownership. A guiding principle of Development Cooperation. Proceedings of the GTZ-LSE-SDC Conference 'Beyond Accra: Practical Implications of Ownership and Accountability in National Development Strategies'. London School of Economics, United Kingdom. 22 nd - 24 th April Collier, Paul (1999). Learning from Failure: The International Financial Institutions as Agencies of Restraint in Africa. In: Schedler, Andreas, Diamond, Larry and Plattner, Marc F., eds. The Self- Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Grindle, Merilee (2001). Despite the Odds: The Political Economy of Social Sector Reform in Latin America. KSG Faculty Research Working Paper No. RWP01-021, Cambridge: Harvard University. Gulrajani, Nilima (2010). New Vistas for Development Management: Examining Radical- Reformist Possibilities and Potential. Public Administration and Development 30 (2), Gulrajani, Nilima (2009). The Future of Development Management. London School of Economics Working Paper Series No.09-99, London: LSE. 17

10 Heaver, Richard and Israel, Arturo (1986). Country Commitment to Development Projects. World Bank Discussion Paper 4, Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Jann, Werner and Wegrich, Kai (2009). Phasenmodelle und Politikprozesse: Der Policy Cycle (Stages models and policy processes). In: Schubert, Klaus and Bandelow, Nils, eds. Lehrbuch Politikfeldanalyse 2.0. München/Wien: Oldenbourg Lindblom, Charles E. (1959). The Science of Muddling-Through. Public Administration Review 19, Meagher, Kate (2009). The Anti-Governance Machine: Ownership and Accountability in the New Aid Regime. Proceedings of the GTZ-LSE-SDC Conference 'Beyond Accra: Practical Implications of Ownership and Accountability in National Development Strategies'. London School of Economics, United Kingdom. 22 nd - 24 th April Popper, Karl R. (1945). The Open Society and Its Enemies. London: Routledge. UN DESA (2010). World Economic and Social Survey Retooling Global Development. New York. von Haldenwang, Christian and Alker, Marianne (2009). Policy Advice in Development Cooperation: A Distinct Type of Policy Advice, [online]. Available from: Homepage/openwebcms3.nsf/(ynDK_contentByKey)/ANES-7YUGCJ/$FILE/BP pdf 18

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