In 2013 Professor Matt Andrews from Harvard University published a book on “The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development: Changing Rules for Realistic Solutions” that importantly influenced thinking in the public financial management sector on how to succeed in introducing and implementing reforms. In his book Professor Andrews argues that reforms often fail because the incentives for reforms do not always come from within the countries and lack the understanding of country specifics. Professor Andrews introduces Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation to governance reforms which in his understanding “emphasizes the importance of problems as entry points for change and the reality of iterative process as the means by which change typically transpires”. Identification of the so called change agents is crucial to make reforms happen, argues Andrews.
During the 2014 Meeting of the CEF Coordinators and Other Key Liaison Officers Professor Andrews joined us through videoconference to share his insights into reforms processes. In his presentation he stressed that governments often prepare budgets better than they execute them, and that any changes in reforming national budgets need to be slow, carefully designed, and adopted to country circumstances. Professor Andrews emphasized the role of training in reforming public financial management systems, and stressed that training always has a transformative aspect and that those providing training need to understand well what transformations they are trying to introduce.
Matt Andrews is Associate Professor of Public Policy at University of Harvard, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Center for International Development. His research focuses on public sector reform, particularly budgeting and financial management reform, and participatory governance in developing and transitional governments. His recent articles focus on forging a theoretical understanding of the nontechnical factors influencing success in reform processes. Specific emphasis lies on the informal institutional context of reform, as well as leadership structures within government-wide networks. This research developed out of his work in the provincial government of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and more recently from his tenure as a Public Sector Specialist working in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank. He holds a BCom (Hons) degree from the University of Natal, Durban (South Africa), an MSc from the University of London, and a PhD in Public Administration from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
You can read more about Professor Andrews’s main presentation messages at the CEF Twitter account.