Since 2012, the Governance Project at CDDRL has sought to develop better comparative measures of state quality. Existing measures like the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators, TI’s Transparency Perceptions Index, or the state-quality measures in the Varieties of Democracy series are based on perception or expert surveys. They often produce aggregate measures for an entire country, without distinguishing between ministries, levels of government, or regions within countries. And almost none of them measure aspects of governance like bureaucratic autonomy that many observers feel are critical to state performance.
The Governance Project has developed a survey instrument that seeks to correct some of these deficiencies by surveying bureaucrats in different countries directly. While such a survey is obviously subject to its own problems like social acceptability bias, they at least try to reach into the insides of executive branches in ways that existing perception surveys do not. To date, the project has completed surveys in China, Brazil, Ukraine, and is undertaking one in India. The survey instrument is based on the Federal Viewpoint Survey (FedView), which has surveyed US bureaucrats over an extended length of time and can serve as a comparative baseline. These surveys are conducted in conjunction with local partners that perform the actual surveys and provide input and analysis into the survey instrument.
It is our hope to generate cross-national comparative data that will encompass an increasing number of countries, and in the long-run produce time-series data. Our model is the World Values Survey, which from the 1980s going forward has expanded the number of countries covered. We hope to make this data publicly available to academic researchers around the world.
The Governance Project has entered into a cooperative agreement with the World Bank and University College, London, to devise a common survey instrument, to standardize surveying practices, and to coordinate the choice of survey targets for future surveys.
This workshop is co-sponsored with Stanford University's Center on Global Poverty and Development.