The role of nontechnical factors influencing success in reform processes

Matt Andrews

Professor Matt Andrews from Harvard University during his on-line presentation at the 2014 Meeting of the CEF Coordinators and Other Key Liaison Officers

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.



About Urška Zrinski

Urška loves learning. She passionately believes in its transformative role: in facilitating ways to do things better, different or even as a way of confirming that what is currently being practiced works well. In her work with financial management officials in South East Europe for a decade she has sought to capture their knowledge and experiences, through packaging this knowledge in the form of workshops, conferences, e-learning courses, study visits, reports, and research. She is particularly interested in the design of learning events and how best to facilitate them to meet their learning objectives. She has also been the main driver behind CEF efforts to measure and report the impact of its learning activities. She holds a PhD from the University of Ljubljana, and an MA from King’s College London, University of London. Her research focuses on international development cooperation effectiveness, cooperation modalities, and quality and use of public financial management systems.

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