Governance reforms frequently produce new forms that are not functional. This is a central story of almost all my research and applied work in development. It is a story that builds on the ‘good enough governance’ work of Merilee Grindle and others. Budget reforms create laws that cannot be implemented because of unreceptive politics or weak capacity. Legal reforms impose demands for services in countries that don't have judges, courts or paper on which to write decisions.
The following is a chart showing perspectives on this issue from a group of government officials in an African country. The top line shows views on the quality of public financial management laws (out of 10) in the country--the 'form' of governance (what it looks like on paper). The bottom three lines show views of implementation at various levels of government (central, provincial and district/local, also all out of 10). The lines cover scores in different process areas in the public financial management system. Note how big some of the gaps between perceived quality of laws and practices are; the government looks much better than it is!
Government officials sometimes don't see this as a pervasive problem, believing that poor implementation of (and compliance with) reform is something they should just overcome. Those who do not implement are considered 'difficult'.
But the issue is about more than just 'bad followers'. Implementation does not happen by edict. Change happens when it is fit to context and develops through a process in which those who have to implement actually participate to develop ownership of the change.
One of my favorite authors on this topic is Richard Rose from Aberdeen, who continually reminds us that if a practice is not within the political or capacity realities of a country it is irrelevant. Richard has a great perspective, arguing that governance reforms should emphasize relevant practices, which are ultimately better than best practices.