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Fostering Democratic Ownership: A Capacity Development Perspective

Discussion Paper 103

February 2011

Hauck, V. and T. Land. 2011. Fostering Democratic Ownership: A capacity development perspective (Discussion Paper 103). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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Background

The concept of Democratic Ownership is in this paper understood as embracing a view of state-society relationships founded on the participation of all actors in policymaking, development planning, implementation and review. Civic voices should be able to express themselves and citizens should have access to resources and information, and also be active in implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Legitimate governance mechanisms and institutions for decision-making and domestic accountability are necessary to build Democratic Ownership, including an independent court of auditors and media, parliaments and elected representatives, civil society organisations and local communities. Such mechanisms create ‘feedback loops’ at various levels to help the system perform better for the overall benefit of society.

Government and civil society ideally define the priorities for national development in a mutual and interactive process, that is framed by a democratic process. This entails an understanding of Democratic Ownership that embraces the voice of a broad set of stakeholders and thereby extends beyond formal government ownership and the electoral process that puts a government in power. It also means that civil society actors are given the opportunity to engage in the development process independently of what the state sets out, but that this engagement takes place within the parameters set by a jointly shaped overall national policy framework and institutional set-up.

Key Purpose of ECDPM Study

This paper reflects on how external partners can broaden and deepen their support for Democratic  Ownership in the context of international development cooperation. The rationale for the paper springs from a general reflection on how to enable developing countries to foster Democratic Ownership by respecting and observing capacity development principles. The paper sets out a perspective that regards the processes associated with the emergence of Democratic Ownership as an essentially endogenous capacity development processes.

Key Findings of ECDPM

The paper argues that capacity development insights relating to emergence and change management, founded within complexity and systems thinking, offer avenues for external change agents in more effectively supporting Democratic Ownership.

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Economic Transformation and TradeDiscussion Papers (series)ResearchCapacity development