Peter Sturm, 2013. "Public Sector Governance and Development Performance
- An international comparison with special focus on Vietnam -"
|Development theory has increasingly focused on public sector governance and pertinent
institutions as key determinants of successful development. This paper discusses the concepts of
public sector governance and alternative development indicators. Both theory and empirical
evidence investigated suggest a significant interrelationship between a country’s quality of public
sector governance, the institutions shaping it, and development performance, however measured.
Quantitative measures of these concepts are then used to depict Vietnam’s comparative
performance in the pertinent areas. The main result of this comparison is that Vietnam’s
development performance – whether measured by the level of GDP pc or the Human
Development Index – ranks in the second lowest quintile among the 178 national economies for
which comparable date exist. This weak performance is then related to the country’s public sector
governance ranking, which is similarly unimpressive. It is argued that Vietnam’s lagging
performance regarding relevant aspects of governance holds back the country’s broader
development. The paper then discusses opportunities for and obstacles to improving public sector
governance: Readily available information on governance principles and corresponding
institutional structures prevailing in the “best practice” countries (e.g. Norway, New Zealand,
Denmark etc.), and these countries’ willingness to share their expertise, offer the opportunity for
other countries to improve their own performance by adapting top performers’ practices and
experience to their own local conditions. The key to such knowledge transfer is the political will
to implement it, and the major obstacles to doing so are the resistance from entrenched interest
groups, combined with the inertia of some pertinent “cultural” characteristics.