Researchers at the Basel Institute on Governance have been working on developing and applying a new analytical framework to assess governance and corruption risks within the public administration. With a focus on the health sector, the research project ‘Governance of Health Systems’, conducted jointly with the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, aims to contribute to the study of governance, especially in low-income countries, and to propose improved governance-enhancing interventions in health services.
An interesting feature of their approach is the mapping of both formal and informal institutions, actors and networks. Similarly to the theoretical orientation followed by ERCAS on its research activities, their analysis emphasises the need to understand how the interplay of formal and informal norms affects a country’s or a particular sector’s governance regime, in order to be able to effectively address identified weaknesses.
Therefore, the proposed methodology draws from both political economy and sociology research and incorporates political power and influence analysis to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the motivations and incentives underpinning the actions of major stakeholders in the health sector. The framework is described in detail in the Basel Institute on Governance Working Paper “A Framework to Assess Governance of Health Systems in Low Income Countries” (No.11/July 2011), by Claudia Baez-Camargo, the project’s lead researcher.
In a more recent paper also authored by Ms. Baez-Camargo and published in July 2012 as a brief by the U4 Anti-Corruption Research Centre, the framework is applied to the case of the pharmaceutical supply chain in Uganda. The paper brief, entitled “Using power and influence analysis to address corruption risks: The case of the Ugandan drug supply chain”, discusses how power and influence analysis was used to assess corruption vulnerabilities in the Ugandan health sector, concentrating on inefficiencies in the distribution of drugs and medical supplies. The study identified powerful stakeholders and informal political networks and relationships that have great relevance for the design and implementation of anti-corruption efforts in Uganda. It concludes that interventions aimed at reducing corruption risks in the health sector need to take into account the prevalence of a vast network of patronage relationships across the country.
This study shows how the analytical framework proposed by researchers at the institute can offer empirical applicability to address specific policy problems emerging from a mismatch between formal and informal institutions, by shedding light on political constraints that are sometimes neglected in the design of governance-enhancing interventions.