Good Governance

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The many ways in which individuals and institutions, public and private, plan and manage public affairs, mitigating respective interests within the polity. The term connotes equity, civic engagement, transparency, accountability, rule of law, efficiency and effectiveness.

In international development, good governance is a way of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way. Governance is “the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).”[1] Governance in this context can apply to corporate, international, national, or local governance as well as the interactions between other sectors of society.

The concept of “good governance” has emerges as a model to compare ineffective economies or political bodies with viable economies and political bodies. The concept centers on the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of all of their constituents, as opposed to select groups in society. Because countries often described as “most successful” are liberal democratic states, concentrated in Europe and the Americas, good governance standards often measure other state institutions against these states.[2] 

Aid and development organizations and the authorities of developed countries often focus the meaning of “good governance” on a set of requirements that conform to the organization’s agenda, making “good governance” imply many different things in many different contexts.[3]

[1]   United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, “What is Good Governance?” (undated), at:

[2]   Mushtaq Husain Khan, State formation in Palestine: viability and governance during a social transformation, Volume 2 of Political economy of the Middle East and North Africa (New York: Routledge, 2004).

[3] Eva Poluha and Mona Rosendahl, Contesting ‘good’ governance: crosscultural perspectives on representation, accountability and public space (New York: Routledge, 2002); Sam Agere, Promoting good governance (London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2000).