Reflective Marker on Governance in Poor Countries Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

Insert the name of your institution here

Insert course name here

Insert course code here

Insert the name of your tutor here

Insert your name here

Insert date of submission here


The arguments on whether participation is important in the development of poor countries have remained contentious with contemporary scholars. In as much, focus has now shifted from earlier scholars such as Grindle (2004) who argued that participation was not the best forum for policy dialogue as it was not aiding coordination between the region, international bodies and the development partners. Currently, scholars are exploring effects of politics and governance with regard to performance of public service in developing countries. In this connectedness, the importance of participation in the development of poor countries are seen in terms of how regimes and political factors in developing countries are driving resources towards developing their countries and whether there is streamlined service deliveries. Scholars such as Diedhiou (2007) have even argued that the understanding of ‘why participation is important in the ‘development’ of ‘poor’ countries’ will only be conceptualized if there are frameworks laid to explain how, to whom and how well resources are utilized in developing countries. Based on these views, this essay critically assess why participation is important in the ‘development’ of ‘poor’ countries. The thesis statement will be supported based on different theoretical models already advanced such as democratization or tyranny and existing literatures on the topic.

Participation in the development of poor countries

Participation in the development of poor countries means giving different stakeholders opportunities to check the role of government in the execution of public service performance. While citing a case study in his “Everyone Is Corrupt in Kenya, Even Grandmothers” Wrong (2014) as cited in Lee (2014) argued that there are different political factors that influence service provision to people of Kenya. Citing incidence of Anglo-Leasing as pathway for corruption, Wrong (2014) notes that participation will ensure that there is effective feedback on how public resources are unitilised. His central argument with regard to Kenya case is that participation is necessary as it will ensure effective feedback to the general public on how their reasons are allocated and utilized.

On the other hand, Hazenberg (2013) discusses the politics of the social rights but reflects more on ways politics in developing countries have become indicators of performance of public services. Relating his argument to the concept of participation advancing the aspect of governance is necessary. Governance and participation are interrelated according to Hazenberg (2013). Governance is merely concerned about demise of a given country as the main and only actor in politics and how resources are utilized. Hazenberg (2013) adds that democratic governance should show networks of private, public and civil society actors that operate on mostly consensual basis. Participation on the other hand means bringing all these actors in decision making process as these actors are believed to be representing the majority. Therefore participation will be important in the development of poor countries’ network between actors and governance who in turn provide stable structures for governance, cooperate on the basis of solving collective problems; in most cases doing this effectively than the state. This view was supported by GNH Commission (2011) who added that when governance-actors participation strategy is adopted then governance is likely to signal a decline of dictatorial powers that have hampered development and such are replaced by actors bringing collective decision making.

While researching on development challenges confronting Bhutan, GNH Commission (2011) have highlighted the importance of participation in the development of this country. The research has looked at importance of participation in terms of three milestones; environmental preservation, good governance and socio-economic progress. However, the study argues that Bhutan currently stands at the midpoint of these milestones as there have been poor structures for participation of international communities and actors who can steer it to its 2020 Vision. Therefore if these actors are allowed to participate; economic landscape of the country will be transformed and continued investments in sufficiently harnessing Bhutan’s comparative advantage especially on its hydropower production. Comparing this case with recent incidence in Zimbabwe where President Robert Mugabe was reluctant to allow international community’s participation in public policy steering, it now remains that the country is failing to broaden its economy which was once supported by a thriving horticulture as well as organic oriented high value agriculture sector from Western Province (Batley et al. 2012).

Allowing participation in developing countries means allowing structures that advocate for and promote good governance. First, this study recognizes that the definition of good governance still remains multifaceted however, within the context of developing countries Hazenberg (2013) defines the concept as ‘complete governance reforms that aims at reducing poverty but encourage development’ (p. 26). In most cases, it has been noted that institutions making up developing countries are vulnerable, weak, and very imperfect. In other words, their decisions are marred by self-gains. It is from this perspective that allowing participation will bring two benefits. First, it will be a platform on which decision-making process for developments are not constricted by individual gains. Secondly, allowing participation from international actors will correct the public organisations that have been bereft of resources. Hazenberg (2013) adds that allowing participation in this direction is not only a recipe for good governance but a route towards reduction of poverty that further overwhelms the commitment of even the most energetic reformers.

Agendas that have been driven by scholars such as Lee (2014) is that process of poverty reduction can be the ultimate development process in developing countries. But what remains critical is that the process of poverty reduction is only possible if there will be combination of factors, starting with the decision to allow all actors to participate in policy designs and policy making process. Taking cases of countries such as South Africa, developing regimes need to put faith in the ability of human rights bodies, international organisations and international governments to propose socio-economic agendas for them. When this level of participation will be attained then it will be said that there was a set of interactions between various actors that ultimately led to productions of human resources necessary for poverty reduction.


Research on governance and politics in developing countries have mainly focused on how these countries design and develop policies mainly to drive-profiting agendas. In as much, little attention has been given on how participation can help these countries drive agendas that result in social, economic and political developments. Articles reviewed contribute to the debate on bottom-up and top-down process of accountability indicating that the most effective way of participation is to create systems where regimes accept to be accountable. Creating these regimes will ultimately allow these countries to fast-track process of development.


Batley, R., McCourt, W., & Mcloughlin, C. (2012). Editorial: Public Management Review. The politics and governance of public services in developing countries. Public Management Review, 14(2), 131-144.

Diedhiou, A. (2007). Governance for development: Understanding the concept/reality linkages. Journal of Human Development, 8(1), 23-38.

GNH Commission. (2011). Eleventh Round Table Meeting. Turning Vision Into Reality: The Challenges Confronting Bhutan.

Grindle, M. S. (2004). Good enough governance: poverty reduction and reform in developing countries. Governance, 17(4), 525-548.

Hazenberg, H. (2013). Is governance democratic?. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, (ahead-of-print), 1-23.

Lee, G. (2014). The evidence on bribery in East Africa is stacked against China-taking shortcuts that fuel corruption in the region, Chinese business interests will suffer in the long term: East Africa-issue in focus. Africa Conflict Monitor, 36-42.