Water from the heights, water from the grassroots: the Governance of common dynamics and public services in La Paz-El Alto


In  common  usage,  Governance—as  distinct  from  Good  Governance—is  often  equated  with “government”  or,  more  precisely,  “the  act  or  process  of  governing”  (Gisselquist,  2012).  It  is hardly surprising therefore that all the official definitions of Governance refer to the notions of authority, power and rules of the game. Kaufman takes it to mean “the traditions and institutions by  which  authority  in  a  country  is  exercised”  (Kaufmann,  Kraay  and  Zoido-Lobaton,  1999). Girishankar  et  al.  consider  that  it  “refers  broadly  to  the  exercise  of  power  through  a  country’s economic, social, and political Institutions in which institutions represent the organizational rules and  routines,  formal  laws,  and  informal  norms  that together  shape  the  incentives  of  public policymakers,  overseers,  and  providers  of  public  services”  (Girishankar,  2002).  This  is  often referred to as “the rules of the game.” Hence the implicit idea that “understanding governance requires  an  identification  of  both  the  rulers  and  the  rules,  as  well  as  the  various  processes  by which they are selected, defined, and linked together and with the society generally.”  For all this, there  is  no  agreed  definition  of  Governance  “that  would  provide  a  convenient  device  for organizing the literature” (Keefer, 2009) as scholars compile dozens of different definitions from as many organizations (Gisselquist, 2012). Among the various alternatives (Weiss, 2000, OECD 2009),  international  organizations  such  as  the  UNDP,  IMF,  and  OECD  opt  for  the  relatively state-centric definitions.  


Source : AFD Research Paper Series, , Agence frança ise de développement, Paris, France

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