Perspectives on Governance, Democratization and Regime Transition in the Third World
After the fall of communism in the late 1980s, democratic rule became the only legitimate alternative for political reform in developing nations. Consequently, throughout the past decade, the world has witnessed the emergence of a global movement toward democratization-a process that, until recently, was commonly regarded as the most effective instrument for inspiring economic growth and development. However, with the growing failure and breakdown of most post-colonial democratic African states, many are now questioning its efficacy as a model for political transition. The standards and understandings at play in the debate over democratization are thus often inconsistent and undefined. As Gordon Hyden notes in African Perspectives of Governance, "The usage of the concept varies from being focused on issues of the state as well as the regime. Scholarly analysts as well as those involved in making policy are yet to find agreement on what governance really stands for" (Hyden et al., 2000: 6).
In this vein, the following paper: (1) assesses the interpretations and usages of governance as presented by Hyden et al; (2) addresses the practical and theoretical differences between the various understandings of democratization and regime transition; (3) discusses the value of good governance for citizens of the Third World; (4) concludes by determining which perspective is most accurate.
While most thinkers commonly agree that the concept of governance necessarily depends on certain fundamental principles i.e., governance refers to how power is being exercised and with what results (Hyden et al., 2000: 6), the scale or focus of the analytical framework in which governance is defined often varies. Generally speaking, the idea of governance is usually considered on one of two levels. In the first, it is thought of primarily "in relation to the s...