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David Jacobstein

I like this approach overall, it's very helpful to focus on the standard deviations rather than the set distance. To reduce the importance of the specific benchmarks, I wonder if you would consider dividing up the total countries into more groupings (say, 3/4/5 categories of income, or 3/5/10) and creating three maps, and then averaging those out for final positions = average standard deviation from cohort as variously defined. This would further clarify the relative positions and reduce the weighting of the income categories.

I look forward to further posts getting into how one might effectively use this more accurate comparative data to make statements about specific patterns of sector governance.

Natalia Adler

Hi Matt,

Somehow I always find myself one or two (or more!) steps behind your entries… I like the suggestion about the linkages between governance and field-specific outcomes (and the proposed approach) – but wonder if there’s still room to raise questions about the purpose of this (or any) kind of measuring exercise.

What will be the implications of developing indicators for governance that actually satisfy the construct validity criteria mentioned earlier? More aid for countries faring better?... In your earlier blogs, you criticized some of these indexes that ranked countries according to different indicators... Were you questioning them because ‘the indicators didn’t correlate with the thing being measured?’ Or could it be an indication that perhaps this kind of ranking doesn’t make sense to begin with… To clarify: I’m not against measuring things. But worry that perhaps we might be too boxed in this results-based framework (even if it’s measuring the rights things with right indicators)…

The pressure for results among donors is growing – and that’s very real. In my earlier comment, I was hoping to find ways to curb this appetite for results by strengthening the linkages to outcomes – and not short-term results that often relate to form rather than function. However, now I wonder whether we shouldn’t be questioning this entire framework in the first place…

Indicators influence the nature of reforms/services/activities in development work. Choosing the right indicators (especially outcome-oriented ones), can help direct services towards concrete results. But is that really a good "influence?" Doesn't this framework end up limiting the use of innovations and experimentation for problem-solving in public service? Don't we run the risk of departing from the focus identifying/addressing bottlenecks in the service delivery chain?

matt andrews

I did a comment that somehow was lost. Essentially, it noted that my personal reason for doing this has two dimensions. First, I am trying to provide a positive critique of the governance indicators we already have, which lack validity and are responsible--in my opinion--for driving an error-laden governance reform agenda. Second, I believe governance matters and would like to see if there is an approach to thinking about and measuring governance that is more valid, reliable and relevant. I am less interested in how my work drives what donors do or do not do. While I recognize this matters I have also found myself in too many situations where donor agencies are pressing for flashy measures, indicators, change theories etc. to do use in advocating some or other set of activities. I am not sure that the incentives of donors, their short time horizons and the like are conducive to serious work in this area. In response to David, I agree with the ideas and will be moving in this direction in coming weeks.

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