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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Is good governance rational? The case of post-bureaucratic education system reform in the Republic of Guinea
by Swift-Morgan, Jennifer Erin, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2011, 501; 3484382
Abstract (Summary)

In the past decade, international development agents have increasingly focused on "good governance," both as a means to improve aid and public service effectiveness and as a democratic end in itself. In the education sector, initiatives such as Education For All are generally using what can be called a "post-bureaucratic" approach to governance, where, in its ideal form, traditional hierarchies of information control and decision-making make way for knowledge collection and exchange at all levels and involving non-state actors to regulate the system. Such approaches introduce the combined use of tools including quality and equity benchmarks, statistics, results-based planning and budgeting and multi-stakeholder decision-making and oversight bodies. These trends, originating in the post-industrial global North, raise questions regarding how the hybrid of technocratic and participatory approaches are actually experienced, particularly when introduced as multimillion dollar initiatives in developing nations.

This case study investigated the experience with post-bureaucratic education system reform in Guinea, West Africa – a typical example of Education for All reforms supported by the World Bank and other international aid agencies. The study closely examined how instruments like data-based planning are actually used, adapted or not used; who is actually involved and why; and what informal dynamics or alternative decision-making processes are also present. The methods used to answer these questions included in-depth interviews and focus groups with actors involved in the reforms at all levels; document analysis of reform tools, reports, and products; and observation of education offices and planning sessions at the decentralized level.

The study finds that the reform processes in Guinea generally were not implemented as intended in the regions studied and that other, informal political, social, cultural, and economic dynamics among and between actors at all levels influenced the education system in powerful ways generally not captured or controlled by the prescribed processes. The study concludes that reforms grounded primarily in a rational systems paradigm will not result in their expected efficiencies and that alternative approaches recognizing, contending with and in some cases embracing informal complexities may ultimately be a better way to achieve the goals of education systems and public sectors generally.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Steiner-Khamsi, Gita
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, International Relations, Sub Saharan Africa Studies
Keywords: Africa, Decentralization, Developing countries, Guinea, Postbureaucracy, Reform, Results-based management
Publication Number: 3484382
ISBN: 978-1-267-00824-4
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