Library, Sri Lanka (Gerald Pereira; CC BY 2.0)

New article on how unfair service provision affects state legitimacy

A new article by DLP's Deputy Director Claire Mcloughlin reverses the dominant proposition underpinning statebuilding models: that service provision improves state legitimacy in a virtuous circle. It presents new empirical data to highlight conditions under which service provision can delegitimise a state, and shows that the circle is not always ‘virtuous' for all groups in society.
 
The open-access article in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding draws on the case of higher education in Sri Lanka to explore how unfair service provision can affect state legitimacy in divided societies. In Sri Lanka, changes to university access catalysed a process of state de-legitimation among the Tamil minority.
 
Highly coveted services, the author finds, are lucrative political legitimacy commodities that can be engineered to cater to the state's core legitimacy audience. This can lead to perceptions of unfairness among excluded groups. These perceptions of unfairness in even a narrow service arena can have wider de-legitimising effects because services signal the operative values and norms of the state to citizens. In already divided societies, whether services support or undermine state legitimacy may therefore hinge on competing perceptions of fairness.
 
The article calls for a more political and non-material interpretation of the relationship between services and state (de-)legitimation. Services matter for legitimacy evaluations precisely because they represent more than just state ‘effectiveness' and the instrumental supply of commodities and rewards. Service provision is not just a question of ‘outputs' but also an expression of processes and values; it signals the state's wider commitment to fairness, impartiality, and the safeguarding of rights and entitlements. 
 
It is these normative qualities that make service provision significant to forming the moral glue between states and societies that underpins state legitimacy. When the provision of services signals that well-being and/or social mobility are closed off, or that the state is not committed to distributing services and goods fairly, service provision can undermine the normative basis for state legitimacy such that any expected ‘virtuous' circle unravels. 
 
See also the author's recent policy brief: When does service delivery undermine state legitimacy? Why perceptions of fairness matter

Related items

New article on how unfair service provision affects state legitimacy

Thursday 26th July 2018

Claire Mcloughlin's new open-access article in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding draws on the case of higher education in Sri Lanka. It explores how unfair service provision can undermine state legitimacy in divided societies.

Read more

New studies on leadership for transformational change in Africa

Thursday 31st May 2018

A new series of studies asks what factors support or hinder leadership for transformational change in Africa. They are published in collaboration with the UONGOZI Institute.

Read more

Somaliland: When less was more

Friday 13th May 2016

How the domestic drivers of peace and development work in the absence of external intervention is examined in an open-access International Affairs article by Dr Sarah Phillips.

Read more

State fragility and formation: democracy in retreat workshop

Friday 29th April 2016

A collaborative workshop at La Trobe University, Melbourne, at which DLP Senior Partner Chris Roche and Dr Sarah Phillips were panellists, considered whether democracy is an appropriate framework for efforts to make sense of the struggles of fragile states.

Read more

Who pays bribes for public services?

Monday 25th April 2016

DLP Research Fellow Dr Caryn Peiffer is co-author with Prof Richard Rose of a new open access article on bribery. It shows that integrating measures of political institutions and individual characteristics can provide a policy relevant understanding of who does and does not pay bribes for public services.

Read more

Political settlements and public service performance

Friday 15th April 2016

A conference hosted by the UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, in partnership with DLP and the Centre for Public Impact, focused on the impact political settlements have on the efficiency of public services. Many of the presentations are now available online.

Read more

Call for papers for DSA conference panel on political settlements

Friday 8th April 2016

Paper proposals are invited for a panel on political settlements and pathways out of fragility at this year's Development Studies Association conference. The panel convenors are Alina Rocha Menocal and Jan Pospisil. The conference will be held on 12-14 September in Oxford, UK.

Read more

Discussion on Libya with Radio France International

Friday 11th March 2016

Attempts by the UN to broker agreement on a Libyan government of national unity are discussed in a new RFI podcast featuring Alina Rocha Menocal.

Read more

Seminar on emerging democracies - rising to the challenge

Tuesday 9th February 2016

Alina Rocha Menocal discussed the relationship between democracy and development at The Australian National University on 9 February 2016. 'Emerging Democracies: Rising to the Challenge' was a Centre for Democratic Institutions seminar that considered how best to help promote development in countries which, formally at least, are democracies but seem to be 'stuck' in transition.

Read more

NIMD programme evaluation released

Thursday 3rd December 2015

An inception study led by DLP Senior Research Fellow Alina Rocha Menocal is part of the newly released evaluation report from the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

Read more

New action research partnership in Lebanon

Friday 4th September 2015

DLP Research Fellows Alina Rocha Menocal and Suda Perera meet this month with fellow researchers at the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut (IFI).

Read more

Launch of service delivery and legitimacy research project: Lebanon and Jordan

Thursday 30th July 2015

Can municipal service delivery improve municipal and state legitimacy and foster social cohesion, especially among communities hosting large refugee populations? A new DLP research project working with DFID-assisted programmes in Lebanon and Jordan will explore this question.

Read more

Within and without the state: presentation at the European Conference on African Studies

Monday 13th July 2015

Suda Perera's ECAS conference paper, 'Within and without the state', shared findings on relations between the state and armed groups in the DRC's Kivu regions.

Read more

Sharing findings at INCAF discussions on peacebuilding and statebuilding

Monday 18th May 2015

Dr Heather Marquette leads a team of DLP researchers who will present their work at the OECD this week. They will share findings with two INCAF Task Teams at discussions of the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals on legitimate politics and on revenues and services.

Read more

Training on fragility, statebuilding and peacebuilding

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Senior DLP Research Fellow Alina Rocha Menocal leads a day of training in Basel this week as part of swisspeace's Certificate of Advanced Studies in Fragility, Conflict and Statebuilding.

Read more

New book on Paying Bribes for Public Services

Friday 27th February 2015

This book, co-authored by DLP research fellow Caryn Peiffer, identifies significant differences in the payment of bribes between countries on every continent, and between services and between individuals within each country. It offers six principles to reduce the scale of bribery in public services.

Read more

New book chapter: contribution to 'The Politics of Inclusive Development'

Monday 12th January 2015

Senior researcher Claire Mcloughlin is one of the contributors to 'The Politics of Inclusive Development', published this month by OUP. The book is dedicated to the memory of the late Adrian Leftwich, DLP's founding Director of Research.

Read more

New concept brief: state legitimacy

Wednesday 3rd December 2014

The origins and durability of a state's legitimacy affect the feasibility of development processes and the effectiveness of external aid interventions. In this three-page Brief, senior researcher Claire Mcloughlin unpacks a slippery, yet important, concept.

Read more

Course on corruption from the grassroots

Tuesday 25th November 2014

DLP Research Fellow Dr Caryn Peiffer is lecturing at the ninth Afrobarometer/CSSR summer school at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, which runs from 17 November - 12 December 2014.

Read more

Evidence on parliamentary strengthening

Friday 14th November 2014

Senior DLP Research Fellow Alina Rocha Menocal will present evidence on parliamentary strengthening to the International Development Committee at Westminster on 18 November with former colleague Tam O'Neil from ODI.

Read more

Contribution to Guardian discussion on fragile states

Thursday 6th November 2014

Research Fellow Suda Perera was among the expert panellists for a Guardian Development Professionals Network Q&A on 6 November. She drew on her recent research in the DRC to discuss the issue, 'After aid, how can development work in unstable states?'

Read more

Findings on the politics of service delivery presented at Danida seminar

Thursday 30th October 2014

Senior researcher Claire Mcloughlin has been sharing findings on the politics of service delivery this week with members of the Danish government's development cooperation staff. She spoke at a Danida seminar, which took place on 28-30 October.

Read more

Security and justice: the first in a new series of literature reviews

Monday 21st July 2014

The first of the Developmental Leadership Program's 'State of the Art' papers is now available. Our SOTA series aims to lay the groundwork for future DLP research by setting out what existing research evidence and development practice tell us about the politics of development in key areas.

Read more

New article: When does service delivery improve the legitimacy of a fragile state?

Friday 28th March 2014

This open access article in the journal Governance, by DLP senior researcher Claire Mcloughlin, unpacks the theory and evidence on the relationship between service delivery and state legitimacy in fragile and conflict-affected states.

Read more

Political Settlements and State Formation - the case of Somaliland

Wednesday 1st January 2014

Why did the civil wars in Somaliland end while Somalia's continued? This new DLP Research Paper asks why large-scale violence was resolved in the internationally unrecognised 'Republic of Somaliland' but not in the rest of Somalia.

Read more

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

Find out more

News

New article on how unfair service provision affects state legitimacy

Thursday 26th July 2018

Claire Mcloughlin's new open-access article in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding draws on the case of higher education in Sri Lanka. It explores how unfair service provision can undermine state legitimacy in divided societies.

Read more

New studies on leadership for transformational change in Africa

Thursday 31st May 2018

A new series of studies asks what factors support or hinder leadership for transformational change in Africa. They are published in collaboration with the UONGOZI Institute.

Read more

Follow: @dlprog