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The Achilles Heel of Governance: Critical Capacity Deficits and Their Role in Governance Failures

29 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2014  

Michael P. Howlett

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Political Science; National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

M. Ramesh

National University of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Date Written: April 5, 2014

Abstract

This study assesses the usefulness of conceptions of policy capacity for understanding policy and governance outcomes. In order to shed light on this issue, we revisit the concept of governance, derive a model of governance types and discuss their capacity pre-requisites. A model of capacity is developed combining competences or skills over three levels of activities with analysis of resource capabilities at each level. This analysis is then applied to common modes of governance. While each mode requires all types of capacity if it is to be high functioning and match its theoretical optimal potential, most on-the-ground modes do not always attain their highest potential. Each mode has a critical type of capacity which serves as its “Achilles heel‟. That is, without high levels of this specific capacity it is unlikely to perform as expected. While some hybrid modes can serve to supplement or reinforce each other and cover off gaps in critical capacity sectors other mixed forms may exacerbate single mode issues. Switching between modes or adopting hybrid modes is therefore a non-trivial issue in which considerations of capacity issues in general and Achilles heel capacities in particular should be a central concern.

Suggested Citation

Howlett, Michael P. and Ramesh, M., The Achilles Heel of Governance: Critical Capacity Deficits and Their Role in Governance Failures (April 5, 2014). Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 14-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2423166 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2423166

Michael P. Howlett (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Singapore 117591
Singapore

M. Ramesh

National University of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

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