Martin R. Doornbos


Institute of Social Studies, The Hague


Abstract. This article traces the evolution of the concept of ‘Good Governance’, launched as a guiding policy metaphor in international aid circles at the end of the Cold War. As a guiding principle, it was presupposed that it would facilitate the posing of a new generation of ‘political conditionalities’, aimed at the internal restructuring of government machinery of developing and transitional countries. However, in practice donor agencies soon found it more complex to handle than they had thought it would be. A new approach, advocating ‘selectivity’ as a criterion for entering into aid relationships, initiated by the World Bank, seemed to offer a way out: ‘good governance’ was to become now a pre-condition for countries keen to receive development aid. By implication, reform of ‘governance’ as such would receive less prominence as an aid policy objective in its own right.