Identify evidence which suggests that problem-driven, iterative approaches to public sector reform can deliver more substantial, wider, long-term governance reform.
A problem-driven, iterative approach to institutional reform involves (i) solving defined performance problems through (ii) creating an environment amenable to experimentation, (iii) creating tight feedback loops, and (iv) engaging a broad set of actors. Such an approach has recently been termed as PDIA (problem-driven iterative adaptation), with analysis suggesting that successful institutional reforms have mostly followed PDIA principles, though these may not have been acknowledged explicitly. The PDIA approach is based on solving a particular performance problem in a specific process. It is not clear whether actors who have undertaken PDIA-type institutional reform in one instance will be better able to undertake reform in another instance, or whether they can better address more significant governance reforms (e.g. overhauling civil service or public financial management systems). This helpdesk research report looks to identify material which suggests a link.
This report starts by introducing and exploring the concept of problem-driven, iterative approaches, and then looks at each of the four PDIA principles, and case study literature that can provide insights into whether PDIA could result in broader governance reform.
Rao, S. Problem-driven iterative approaches and wider governance reform (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1099). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 10 pp.