This paper provides a landscape view of concepts and methods commonly used or with high potential for use in the study of African governance. It draws on both African and non-African literature and, consistent with the Terms of Reference, pays special attention to those methods with the greatest potential for illuminating social policy issues. The paper has been grouped under four broad headings: political science approaches, economic approaches, socio-political approaches, and ethnographic approaches. The discussion reveals that each of the four broad approaches considered here has its strengths and weaknesses. A plausible inference is that governance research ought not to be ‘method-driven’, since that would privilege a particular approach, resulting in data bias and limitations. Instead, governance research should be ‘problem-driven’, with methodological tools carefully chosen to address the problem at hand. Because most governance problems are complex, many will benefit by being tackled from a variety of methodological angles, combining the inductive and deductive strengths of different approaches or traditions.
Kelsall, T. Concepts and Methods for Research in Governance: An Overview Paper for PASGR. Partnership for African Social & Governance Research (PASGR), Nairobi, Kenya (2010) 42 pp. [A PASGR Scoping Study]