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Blog by Dr Pritish Behuria

The Challenge of Thinking and Working Politically to reform public services

June 3, 2016
by Dr Pritish Behuria

In this post LSE Research Fellow Dr Pritish Behuria reviews the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Global Centre for Public Service Excellence 3-day Conference, that was held in Singapore last month (April 2016)* 

Between 12 and 14 April 2016, The UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence (GCPSE) held a conference in Singapore on the subject of Political Settlements and Public Service Performance. The conference was one of GCPSE’s initiatives to introduce fresh thinking on public service reforms in late developing countries. The conference, which was co-sponsored by the Development Leadership Program and the Centre for Public Impact, worked in line with recent attempts within the academic and development practitioner community to Think and Work Politically (TWP), Work with the Grain and Do Development Differently.  The conference intended to develop a deeper understanding of how political settlements impact the performance of public service, diagnose political dimensions of public service performance and identify concrete opportunities and activities that leverage ‘politics’ to deliver development goals.

The subject of the conference was inspired by Mushtaq Khan’s work on political settlements, which argues against assumptions associated with the Good Governance paradigm. Khan’s work highlights that since patron-client relationships predominate in late developing countries, it is unfair to assume that ‘best practice’ initiatives may be suitable in those contexts. A large amount of work using political settlements has flourished since then including work developed through initiatives like the Crisis States Research Centre and the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre. Douglass ...

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