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Defintions of governance:

“… the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs. It is the complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights and obligations, and mediate their differences.” (UNDP)[1]

“… the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development. Governance means the way those with power use that power.” (ADB)[2]

“… the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised for the common good. This includes (i) the process by which those in authority are selected, monitored and replaced, (ii) the capacity of the government to effectively manage its resources and implement sound policies, and (iii) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them. ” (World Bank)[3]


Why measure governance?

In recent years, there has been growing evidence to support the link between good governance and good development outcomes.[4] UNESCAP describes good governance as having 8 major characteristics. “It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.”[5]



The Worldwide Governance Indicators Project of the World Bank reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 212 countries and territories over the period 1996–2007, for six dimensions of governance:

  • Voice and Accountability
  • Political Stability and Absence of Violence
  • Government Effectiveness
  • Regulatory Quality
  • Rule of Law
  • Control of Corruption


Metagora is a PARIS21 pilot project focusing on methods, tools and frameworks for measuring democracy, human rights and governance. Metagora gathers together North/South leading expertness and is conducted by a multi-disciplinary community of institutions and individuals committed in the implementation of selected activities in different regions of the world.


The Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project of the Bertelsmann Stiftung is a cross-national survey of governance in the OECD. The project identifies reform needs and highlights forward-looking governance practices in 31 OECD countries, while offering full access to the data underlying 147 qualitative and quantitative indicators.

  • The SGI’s Status Index examines the quality of democracy in each surveyed state according to definitional norms of participation rights, electoral competition and respect for the rule of law. Other factors reinforcing democratic practices – such as media independence, civil rights protection and access to information – are also assessed here.
  • The SGI’s Management Index explores the capacity of executive actors to formulate, coordinate and implement policy by reflecting factors such as strategic planning, communication, the use of expert advice and impact assessments, task delegation and ministerial coordination. The Management Index examines also nongovernmental actors’ ability to influence the political process through established, regular channels. It does so by assessing the evaluative and participatory competence of citizens, legislature’s resources and oversight, media and parties/associations.

The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index BTI is an international ranking of 128 developing and transition countries. It sheds light upon the political and economic status of each country as well as upon the political management performance by the relevant actors. The BTI measures the current state of democracy and market economy in a given country, its evolution over the past two years and the quality of governance performed by its leadership. Detailed country reports provide information on the underlying factors of assessment for each country examined.


Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2009. The Polity conceptual scheme examines concomitant qualities of democratic and autocratic authority in governing institutions, rather than discreet and mutually exclusive forms of governance. This perspective envisions a spectrum of governing authority that spans from fully institutionalized autocracies through mixed, or incoherent, authority regimes (termed “anocracies”) to fully institutionalized democracies. The Polity scheme consists of six component measures that record key qualities of executive recruitment, constraints on executive authority, and political competition. It also records changes in the institutionalized qualities of governing authority. The Polity IV dataset covers all major, independent states in the global system (i.e., states with total population of 500,000 or more in the most recent year; currently 163 countries) over the period 1800-2009.

See also




Further Reading

  • Enrico Giovannini, Joaquim Oliveira Martins and Michela Gamba, Statistics, Knowledge and Governance, Paper from Workshop “Committing Science to Global Development” Lisbon, September 29-30, 2008
  • Measuring Governance, Policy Brief No. 39, October 2010, OECD Development Centre, Charles P. Oman and Christiane Arndt


Multi-level Governance / Global Governance

New Governance / Institutions