This module is a resource for lecturers
The concept of public sector governance has played a central role in shaping countries' development trajectories over the past few decades, as reflected in the studies and debates presented on this webpage of the World Bank. Given the negative impact that corruption has on governance, the governance discourse has been tightly linked to the fight against corruption. Thus, the term "good governance" is often intertwined with the anti-corruption agenda, and "bad governance" is commonly associated with corruption (see UNESCAP, 2009). At the same time, there is no consensus about how to define the complex concepts of governance and corruption. Apart from the difficulties at the conceptual level, methodological problems arise when trying to measure the level of good governance or the prevalence and severity of corruption for policy purposes. Furthermore, prescriptions to foster better governance or to reduce corruption have been plagued by conflicting or insufficient empirical evidence. Thus, despite significant investment in governance and anti-corruption tools in the past decades, there is still confusion about their effectiveness and how to measure governance and corruption.
The challenges of defining corruption are addressed in Module 1 of the E4J Anti-Corruption Module Series. Module 1 also discusses the challenges of measuring corruption, highlighting the various limitations of existing indicators. For present purposes, it should be noted that the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) refrains from providing one overarching definition of "corruption". Rather, it defines and classifies various acts of corruption as criminal offences, such as bribery and embezzlement (in both the public and private sectors); abuse of functions (i.e. when those performing public functions misuse their power to obtain a benefit); trading in influence; illicit enrichment; and money-laundering. With 186 States parties, UNCAC is approaching universal adherence, and the different acts of corruption defined by the Convention can be considered internationally accepted. Module 4 and Module 5 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption include more detailed discussions on how these various acts of corruption manifest in the public and private sectors, respectively.
The present Module focuses on the concept of good governance. It explores the different definitions of good governance and approaches to measuring it. The discussion starts by conceptualizing "governance" and "good governance", and their relationship with the global sustainable development agenda. It then discusses the eight principles of good governance, measuring good governance, corruption and bad governance, and governance reforms and anti-corruption.
The following sections of the module provide an overview of:
- What is governance?
- What is good governance?
- Corruption and bad governance
- Governance reforms and anti-corruption
Next: What is governance?