Assessing the Comparative Effectiveness of Reform Promotion Tools
This research project will identify which financial incentives and social pressures have the greatest impact on policy and institutional reform patterns in developing countries. We will explore how and why the effectiveness of these policy instruments varies across issue domains (e.g. health, education, microeconomic regulation, public financial management) and institutional settings (e.g. failed states, young democracies, strong autocracies). We will also seek to answer why some reforms inspired by external incentives and socialization mechanisms result in cosmetic de jure changes, while others lead to substantial de facto transformations. These issues are only dimly understood by aid agencies and international organizations, yet they directly impinge upon the ability of such institutions to design effective reform incentives and socialization mechanisms.
The Influence of the Millennium Challenge Account Eligibility Criteria
The United States Government created the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in 2004 to provide a reward and an incentive for governments to adopt policies and build institutions that facilitate economic growth and poverty reduction. However, the MCC’s impact as incentive for policy and institutional reform in developing countries remains under-researched. A small body of anecdotal evidence suggests that governments have implemented reforms to enhance their chances of becoming eligible for MCC assistance. Yet, little is known about the strength and scope of MCC’s “incentive effect” and why it seems to exert different levels of influence across countries and issue domains. In fall 2012, we conducted a first-of-its-kind survey of 640 policy elites in 100 low income countries with an ambitious goal: to measure the influence of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) eligibility criteria, as observed by policymakers and practitioners in MCA “target” countries.
How Policymaking Networks Shape Reform Patterns
As evidenced by the increasing popularity of networked governance, political scientists and policymakers recognize the importance that organizational relationships and network structure play in policy formation, adoption, and implementation processes. Using cutting edge network analysis methods, we will conduct a web-based self interview to map the organizational relationships in 6 to 12 low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Results will shed light on how an organization's network position impacts its influence over the reform commitment process. We will also investigate how breakdowns in inter-organizational collaboration and communication networks impact the success of reform efforts. Finally, we will add to the existing literature on networked governance by examining how inter-organizational network closure and trust structures evolve to overcome impediments to reform.