Robert Rotberg at the Conversation: “…Citizens everywhere desire “good governance” – to be governed well within their nation-states, their provinces, their states and their cities.
Governance is more useful than “democracy” if we wish to understand how different political rulers and ruling elites satisfy the aspirations of their citizens.
But to make the notion of “governance” useful, we need both a practical definition and a method of measuring the gradations between good and bad governance.
What’s more, if we can measure well, we can diagnose weak areas of governance and, hence, seek ways to make the weak actors strong.
Governance, defined as “the performance of governments and the delivery of services by governments,” tells us if and when governments are in fact meeting the expectations of their constituents and providing for them effectively and responsibly.
Democracy outcomes, by contrast, are much harder to measure because the meaning of the very word itself is contested and impossible to measure accurately.
For the purposes of making policy decisions, if we seek to learn how citizens are faring under regime X or regime Y, we need to compare governance (not democracy) in those respective places.
In other words, governance is a construct that enables us to discern exactly whether citizens are progressing in meeting life’s goals.
Measuring governance: five bundles and 57 subcategories
Are citizens of a given country better off economically, socially and politically than they were in an earlier decade? Are their various human causes, such as being secure or being free, advancing? Are their governments treating them well, and attempting to respond to their various needs and aspirations and relieving them of anxiety?
Just comparing national gross domestic products (GDPs), life expectancies or literacy rates provides helpful distinguishing data, but governance data are more comprehensive, more telling and much more useful.
Assessing governance tells us far more about life in different developing societies than we would learn by weighing the varieties of democracy or “human development” in such places.
Government’s performance, in turn, is according to the scheme advanced in my book On Governance and in my Index of African Governance, the delivery to citizens of five bundles (divided into 57 underlying subcategories) of political goods that citizens within any kind of political jurisdiction demand.
The five major bundles are Security and Safety, Rule of Law and Transparency, Political Participation and Respect for Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development (education and health)….(More)”