Building municipal capacity : lessons from 'top down' and 'bottom up' state building
CITATION: Ganson, B. (2016). Building municipal capacity : lessons from ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ state building. ACDS Working Paper Series 2016/3.
As companies engage to help build municipal capacity in South Africa, it may be useful to situate these efforts within the experience of international attempts to drive good governance and development through ‘state building’. Analysis provides warnings about an exclusive focus on the institutions and capacities of the formal government, with attendant risks of failed projects or even perverse effects that reinforce division and increase resistance to change. It suggests that a broader lens on the society and the political economy may be necessary to conceptualize and mobilize sufficient coalitions for positive change. And it provides some guidance to companies to the specific risks and opportunities they face as change agents. The discussion below draws substantially from studies of particularly conflict-prone environments, both because of the availability of evidence, and because of the relevance to the South African municipal context.