Public sector institutional reform

Anuradha Joshi, Becky Carter
GSDRC, University of Birmingham
Year of publication: 

The public sector is the single most important investment instrument for the state, and improving the way it is managed is critical for development outcomes including service delivery, social protection and private sector regulation. Public sector governance reform involves institutional reform – that is, changing the rules and norms that govern public sector activity. How can policymakers and practitioners support institutional reform to improve the performance of the state? What do we know about what has – or hasn’t – worked, and where? This Topic Guide from the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre synthesises the evidence, debates and lessons that emerge from the literature.


1 Public Sector Institutional Reform: What do we know?
1.1 Executive Summary
1.2 Strength of Evidence

2 Concepts and Debates
2.1 What are Institutions?
2.2 Institutional Reform and Organisational Change
2.3 Challenges to Reform in Public Sector Institutions

3 Institutional Reform and Development Outcomes
3.1 Evidence of Links Between Institutions, Development Outcomes and Growth
3.2 Critical Perspectives on Institutionalism
3.3 Impact of Institutional Reform on Development Outcomes

4 Lessons, Tools and Guidelines
4.1 Working with Political and Social Institutions
4.2 Starting with Existing Contexts
4.3 Approaches to Designing Public Sector Institutional Reform
4.4 Donor Roles, Challenges and Modalities
4.5 Trends in Development Assistance to Institutional Reform
4.6 Tools and Guidelines