Competitive Clientelism and the Politics of Core Public Sector Reform in Ghana

ESID Working Paper No. 82.

45 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2017

See all articles by Daniel Appiah

Daniel Appiah

University of Ghana

Abdul‐Gafaru Abdulai

University of Ghana - Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management; University of Manchester - School of Environment, Education and Development

Date Written: March 18, 2017

Abstract

Although Ghana has implemented several donor-sponsored public sector reforms (PSRs) in an attempt to improve core areas of state functionality, the impact of such reforms remains generally disappointing. In this paper, we show that the nature of the political settlement in Ghana, described as one of ‘competitive clientelism’, is central to understanding the country’s limited success in improving the effectiveness of public institutions. Faced with a credible threat of losing power to excluded factions in competitive elections, reform initiatives tend to be driven largely by the logic of the maintenance of ruling governments, rather than by their potential to enhance the effectiveness of state institutions. This has often resulted in decisions that undermine reform efforts, ranging from needless and costly institutional duplications to the politicisation of the bureaucracy through patronage-based appointments, and the wholesale removal of public servants perceived to be associated with previous regimes. In this political environment, policy discontinuities across ruling coalitions are a norm, undermining the impact of reform initiatives that require a longer-time horizon to bear fruit.

Keywords: Ghana, political settlements, governance, institutions, public sector reform

Suggested Citation

Appiah, Daniel and Abdulai, Abdul-Gafaru, Competitive Clientelism and the Politics of Core Public Sector Reform in Ghana (March 18, 2017). ESID Working Paper No. 82.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2954598 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2954598

Daniel Appiah

University of Ghana ( email )

PO Box 25
Legon, Accra LG
Ghana

Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai (Contact Author)

University of Ghana - Department of Public Administration and Health Services Management ( email )

Ghana

University of Manchester - School of Environment, Education and Development ( email )

Manchester
United Kingdom

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