HKS Authors

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Public sector reforms are commonplace in developing countries. Much of the literature about these reforms reflects on their failures. This paper asks about the successes and investigates which of two competing theories best explain why some reforms are positive deviants: “solution- and leader-driven change” (SLDC) and “problem-driven iterative adaptation” (PDIA). The theories are used to analyze data emerging from a case survey involving thirty cases from Princeton University’s Innovations for Successful Society (ISS) program. The bulk of evidence from this study supports a PDIA explanation, but there is reason to believe that SLDC hypotheses also have value.


Andrews, Matthew. "Explaining Positive Deviance in Public Sector Reforms in Development." World Development 74 (October 2015): 197-208.