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Governance indicators have come under fire in recent years, especially the World Governance Indicators. Critics present these indicators as atheoretical and biased. Critics of the critics counter that no better alternatives exist. The authors suggest otherwise, arguing that more appropriate 'governance' indicators will: have theoretical grounding; focus on specific fields of engagement; emphasize outcomes; and control for key contextual differences in comparing countries. Such constructs can help indicate where countries seem to have governance problems, allowing second-stage analyses of where and what these problems are; they do not directly point to the presence or nature of problems or provide a measure of the governance concept. Under-5 mortality rates adjusted for country income groups are shown as an example of such a measure, and data presented for contextually compared outcomes in this specific field to show where governance seems better and worse. The USA is shown up as relatively weak, whereas a country such as Pakistan seems to have better governance in this sector than other low-income countries. The indicator has its weaknesses and is partly presented as an illustrative example of a new approach, but also allows questions about why governance of this sector might be problematic in certain contexts and easier in others.


Andrews, Matthew. "Can Governance Indicators Make Sense? Towards a New Approach to Sector-Specific Measures of Governance." Oxford Development Studies 38.4 (December 2010): 391-410.