Development Centre

Uses and Abuses of Governance Indicators



Publication Date: August 2006

ISBN: 92-64-02685-1



Uses and Abuses of Governance Indicators

Christiane Arndt and Charles Oman, OECD Development Centre

Rapidly rising attention to the quality of governance in developing countries is driving explosive growth in the use of governance “indicators” by international investors, donors of official development assistance, development analysts and academics. 

This study helps both users and producers of governance indicators to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the best and most widely used indicators, helps them find their way through the jungle of the hundreds of existing governance indicator datasets, and shows how governance indicators tend to be widely misused both in international comparisons and in tracking changes in the quality of governance in individual countries.   It also explains recent developments in the supply of governance indicators, arguing that while there will never be one perfect governance indicator, the production and use of more transparent governance indicators will better serve the needs of users and developing countries alike.

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"Highly informative and equally persuasive"

Adam Przeworski, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Politics, New York University

"Should be required reading by all who publish or use governance indicators, especially those who are making policy or offering policy advice"

John D. Sullivan, Executive Director, Center for International Private Enterprise

“Given the proliferation of governance indicators, Arndt and Oman offer a welcome assessment of how existing studies are best interpreted and used by scholars, aid agencies, governments and businesses.  This careful appraisal of present knowledge will be the basis for launching the next round of inquires.” 

Hilton L. Root, former U.S. Treasury Department official, author of Capital and Collusion, Princeton University Press.

 “A seminal study. Extremely thorough. Should reach a very wide audience”

François Roubaud, Director of Research, Développement Institutions et Analyses de Long terme (DIAL)


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