Even in countries with very poor governance, some exceptional, well functioning public agencies can be found. How and why are these 'pockets of productivity' able to emerge? Research on this topic has been dominated by case studies, which have generated a large number of hypotheses but no coherent overall statement. This review collects and organises the available hypotheses into five mega-hypotheses; reflects on their relative importance and how they influence one another; and suggests some implications for policymakers. Most analysis of capacity building efforts focuses on technical improvements that might increase the quality of interventions. This review suggests that the ability to carry out internal managerial reforms is dictated in part by the nature of an organisation's work, the constituencies it serves, and the larger political economy environment.
This is a two-page summary of a paper which can be accessed in full on this page.
Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, 2 pp.