The politics of what works in service delivery: an evidence-based review

The politics of what works in service delivery: an evidence-based review

This paper examines the evidence on the forms of politics likely to promote inclusive social provisioning and enable, as opposed to constrain, improvements in service outcomes. The paper focuses particularly on eight relatively successful cases of delivery in a range of country contexts and sectors where independent evaluations demonstrate improved outcomes.

The document traces the main characteristics of the political environment for these cases. The findings indicate that it is possible to identify connections between good performance and better outcomes at the point of delivery and the main forms of politics operating at local, sector and national levels.

Furthermore, the document highlights the relationship between inclusive delivery and:

  • periods of crisis and transition
  • the nature of the political settlement
  • the types of calculations of political returns being made by political actors at all levels
  • the extent to which the state derives or seeks to enhance its legitimacy through the provision of a particular service

Equally important, the authors conclude that:

  • future research needs to give special importance to the point of implementation, where formal policies most often fail and where “real” policies emerge from the interplay of interests and incentives
  • future research needs to be multi-directional, tracing both the influence of politics on services and, in turn, the influence of services on politics


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