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Palgrave Macmillan

Auditing Good Government in Africa

Public Sector Reform, Professional Norms and the Development Discourse

ISBN 9781137282712
Publication Date January 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Executive Politics and Governance

The inability of many democratic governments in Africa to govern effectively has been an important factor in the many problems that the continent and its constituent countries have faced over the past decades. The question for scholars has been in learning what has caused the endemic failure of public institutions throughout Africa and understanding how to create good government in the future of the continent. Strongly supported by empirical evidence, this book challenges the existing literature on the subject by breaking with the traditional notion among academics that the key to good government in Africa is through the creation of unique administrative structures, or at the very least developing significantly adapted foreign structures with an emphasis on the specific structure of African societies. Instead the author contrasts this notion with theories from other research fields suggesting that public officials are likely to be interested in following professional norms and that organizations generally strive to imitate each other, regardless of geographical location. This book presents rich original empirical research from the field of state audit in Sub-Saharan Africa where the above different theoretical approaches are empirically explored. The research results contradict many assumptions made in the literature on development and points to the importance of adding other dimensions, such as professional norms, to nuance the discussion of the future of the African continent.

Maria Gustavson is Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She is affiliated with the Quality of Government Institute and has been a visiting scholar at London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research primarily concerns administrative reforms in developing countries, audit and democratic accountability and effects of audit on public sector performance. Gustavson is also appointed as Board Member of the Swedish Government's Expert Group for Analyzing and Evaluating Swedish International Aid.

1. Introduction - Good Government and Development in Africa
2. The Dynamics of Public Sector Reform –Two Research Traditions
3. The African Context of Public Auditors
4. State Audit Conceptualized
5. The National Audit Offices of Botswana and Namibia
6. Dimensions of Development - Transnational Professional Communities
7. Conclusions


"This book does a masterful job of clarifying how public officials in developing countries handle foreign inspired administrative reforms and international practices, in relation to their local circumstances. It offers an excellent set of case studies that demonstrate how a distinct professional identity among African public auditors has emerged. Policy-makers, professionals and scholars should be grateful to have such a well-crafted, finely-balanced contribution to the literature on organizational change and professionalization." - Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Chr. Michelsen Institute and the International Centre for Tax and Development
"In this well-argued and ambitious study, Gustavson demonstrates that institutional and professional logics of audit institutions in African countries do not differ much from their counterparts in the industrialized world. The study makes a key contribution to the literature, as its results contrast to many conventional notions about public institutions in developing countries." - Shirin Ahlback Oberg, Uppsala University, Sweden
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