This thesis shifts the focus on the politics of social protection beyond adoption to implementation. By focusing on subnational- (district-) level implementation, this thesis seeks to resolve a puzzle of why some districts perform better in implementation than others. There is a widespread perception in the literature that poor service delivery is explained by the weak institutional capacities of districts, but if this is the case, then why do some districts do better than others in delivering cash transfers despite having similar existing state capacities? Similarly, it is difficult to discern why some district authorities ensure more impartial distribution than others when a common finding in the literature is that most targeted social-protection programmes are highly politicised and are rarely based on need. This thesis offers insights into these puzzles by undertaking an analysis of the political drivers of uneven implementation outcomes in Ghana's flagship Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme. It employs a predominantly comparative qualitative analysis to explore variation in implementation patterns at four sites across the northern and southern parts of the country, using a conceptual framework that combines institutionalist perspectives, which examine historical processes, and a literature on coalitional relations, which highlights the alignments that emerge among elites, the threats to their power and the associated time horizons in producing variation in performance. In so doing, the thesis contributes to ongoing debates on whether structural/historical factors or more contemporary/agential ones play a greater role in shaping state performance, generating several innovative findings. First, the study finds a strong association between legacies of state formation and the degree of effectiveness in LEAP grant delivery, explaining in particular the poor delivery effectiveness in northern compared to southern parts of Ghana. Second, it uncovers a strong association between local power configurations and the degree of effectiveness and impartiality in LEAP targeting at all four sites. Specifically, in terms of the causal mechanisms, sites characterised by political dominance and limited threats of turnover among governing coalitions saw more effectiveness in delivery and impartiality in targeting, whereas those with greater competitiveness and enhanced threats of turnover witnessed less effectiveness and impartiality. Thus, competition leads to reduced time horizons and a greater reliance on clientelist strategies to secure votes, both of which undermine performance. These findings have important policy implications. For example, they stress the need for the Ghanaian authorities to rebalance state capacity across the country through greater investments in the north. They also suggest that the coordination of a stronger coalition of technocratic elites to oversee district-level implementation may be necessary to ensure more inclusive outcomes. Overall, the findings emphasise the need for policy-design mechanisms that may involve the recentralisation of major aspects of implementation, to "reach around" the influence of local political and social actors.
|Date of Award||31 Aug 2021|
- The University of Manchester
|Supervisor||Thomas Lavers (Supervisor) & Samuel Hickey (Supervisor)|