Beyond magic bullets in governance reform


This paper brings together varied streams of research and practice to identify and critically examine the central debates and emerging lessons of governance change related to political commitment, bureaucratic capacity, and state-society relations. Political will cannot be reduced to either personal agency or external incentives alone; it is instead shaped by a combination of leadership threat perceptions, political security, and elite ideas. Civil service weakness is a stubborn challenge for governance reformers but several strategies have shown promise in improving bureaucratic effectiveness. These include flexible approaches to reform implementation, the creation of technocratic enclaves, and managerial efforts to raise civil service morale and accountability. Productive state-society relations can involve both inclusive citizen participation and exclusive relationships between the state and private sector. These three governance pillars are not independent and are deeply affected by the extensive interactions among key drivers of reform.


de Gramont, D. Beyond magic bullets in governance reform. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, USA (2014) 42 pp.

Beyond magic bullets in governance reform

Published 1 January 2014