Development Role of the Local Governance Institutions in Bangladesh: Empirical Overview

Local governance institutions are widely recognized as the best ground in which people can learn the art of governance through their own experiences and the reality that exists around them. Local government is also always, in all circumstances, considered as the important vehicle and only the means to provide state benefits and services to the local inhabitants. This paper attempts to analyze the performance of local governance institutions (public, non-profit and private) in Bangladesh in a critical and a comparative manner. It is found that, despite frequent reform measures, the public institutions have failed to become people-oriented democratic units due to strong intervention of formal and informal actors. As a result, corruption has burgeoned and pervaded every sector of the country as fatal disease, and has become an inevitable part of the daily life in Bangladesh. The findings of this paper indicate that the public institution is structurally stronger than the non-profit and private institutions but functionally weaker. The paper also suggests that strong public institutions can not work effectively and efficiently given their various malfunctioning practices, while comparatively weak institutional structures (NGOs) are able to work efficiently due to their good practices. As a result, it is recommended that in order to eradicate and overcome the features of poor governance, the partnership form of local governance system might be the best possible solution in aid recipient countries like Bangladesh.
Main Article: 


The world is changing rapidly. In order to cope with the changing situation, the local government institutions have been receiving immense importance from both the domestic and international forces in the developing countries during the last three decades and more. Cheema (1996) states that there were three worldwide institutional transitions in the last decade which are having and will continue to have significant impact and change on governmental and economic systems. To him, one of the transitions is a rapidly growing interest in decentralization of previously highly centralized governments and a broadening and strengthening of local governance through networking and partnership to ensure the features of good governance of the aid receiving countries (in Rahman, 2000a). Therefore, in the current discourse of governance and development, the local government has been recognized as the best ground in which the people can learn the art of government, values of democracy and their responsibility through direct and indirect participation and experiences around them (Rahman, 2000b, Siddiqui 2005, Stoker 1996, Stewart 1983, Hye 2000, Blair 1981). As Jackson (1967) said in sixties that the "local government is the vital ground to create sense of patriotism among the people" (in Rahman, 2000b:3).

Although Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, the land is still best known as a poorest country in the world with the features of massive poverty, over-population and corruption (Sarker and Rahman, 2007, Khan, 2003, Kochanek, 2000). According to the US Congressional Research Report 2008, Bangladesh is placed at the 12th position among 177 countries in the index of "failed and ineffective" nations, considering the factors such as weak political leadership, the armed forces, police, judiciary and public administration (The Daily Prothom-Alo, July 20, 2008)[i]. Despite some progress in terms of per capita income, education, life expectancy and communication, it is claimed that the poverty dimension in Bangladesh is manifold and is still widespread in the country (Sobhan, 1998, in Sarker and Rahman ,2007:100). Poor governance system, categorically the weak local governance is identified as one of the major reasons for such sub-human condition of Bangladesh. Transparency International of Bangldesh (TIB) states that lack of powerful local government, is one of the major causes of increasing corruption in the country (1999:4). The Chairman of the Anti-corruption Commission accuses that abusing power is the main problem of governance in Bangladesh, not bribery[ii].

Bangladesh as a former British colony, inherited a local government system absolutely influenced by the British colonial model (Samaratunge, Alam and Teicher, 2008:28, Siddiquee, 1996:333). The history of Bangladesh shows that each regime change was accompanied by a change in its local government structure (see Table 1). Each government’s stated objective was to establish decentralized local governance and ensure people’s participation in the local development. Nevertheless, it has been seen that the two crucial elements of self-governance, that is, devolution of power and the expansion of financial boundaries of local institutions, have not been initiated in the locally elected bodies. Therefore, the issue of people’s participation remained limited to theory only (Khan, 2000). Moreover, these attempts have produced neither substantive or sustainable development, nor any real participatory institutional base of local governance (see for details Samaratunge, Alam, and Teicher 2008, Siddiquee, 1997, 1999, Ahmed 1987, Huque, 1988, 1986, Zafarullah and Khan, 1994). The evidence shows that the last three successive governments elected to office in 1991, 1996 and 2001, have all thus far notably failed to implement any elected governmental tiers outside the Union Parishad that was already in place (Parnini, 2006:203). On the contrary, the democratic governments have empowered the Members of Parliament (MPs) and civil and army bureaucrats to make the local government more and more subservient to the central state. According to the UNDP,

Over the years the successive governments in Bangladesh, have simply twisted the inherited local bodies to suit their political needs. Due to frequent changes and experimentations, the institutions have suffered and could not take a permanent and viable shape. There is also a noticeable tendency towards building and expanding institutions rather hurriedly without going through necessary stages of development and maturation. (in Aminuzzaman, 1993:259)

Table-1: Local government structure of Bangladesh in different regimes

Zila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats) Upazila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats, election was not held)

Mujib Regime
1971-1975 (Three Tiers)
Zia Regime
1975-1980(Four Tiers)
Ershad Regime
1981-1990 (Three Tiers)
Khaleda Regime
1991-1996 (Two Tiers)
Hasina Regime
1996-2001 (Four Tiers Proposed)
Khaleda Regime
2001-2006 (Four Tiers)
District Board at District Level (dominated by the bureaucrats) Zila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats) Zila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats) Zila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats) Zila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats)
Thana Development Committee at Thana Level (dominated by the bureaucrats) Thana Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats) Upazila Parishad
Election held in 1985 and 1990 (elected chairman)
  Upazila Parishad (dominated by the bureaucrats, election was not held)
Union Parishad
First election held in 1973 (elected body)
Union Parishad
Second electin held in 1977 (elected body)
Union Parishad
Election held in 1983-84, 1988 (Elected body)
Union Parishad
Election held in 1992 (Elected body)
Union Parishad
Election held in 1997 (Elected body)
Union Parishad
Election held in 2003 (Elected body)
  Gram Sarker (selected body)     Village Parishad (Proposed not implemented) Gram Sarker (selected body)


As a result, local government institutions have failed to become representative democratic units for people’s participation and sustainable development in one hand, the performance of local government institutions in Bangladesh is not satisfactory on the other. The features of poor local governance are quite visible in the landscape of public administration in Bangladesh. However, at the same time and with the same contextual reality, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and private sectors have emerged as the important sectors in the development discourse of Bangladesh. It has been claimed that the poor performance of public institutions have paved the way of NGOs and private institutions to play an important role in the rural society (Sarker, 2003). It is now well known that the microfinance industry has its roots in Bangladesh with the Grameen Bank, and it enjoys international fame, and its model has been replicated in countries all over the globe due to its exceptional success (Hulme and Moore, 2006, Develtere and Huybrechts, 2005:165, Jain 1996:79). Visionary leadership, strong decentralization, combined with extensive information and communication system, strategic credit policies and a credit conducive organizational culture, the least bureaucracy in the Grameen’s organizational culture and the least dependency on Bangladeshi bureaucracy and politics are the causes of success of the microfinance theory in Bangladesh (Hulme and Moore, 2006, Jamil, 1998:43, Jain 1996:88, Sarker, 2001:10).

Therefore, this paper is an attempt to examine explicitly the role of local governance institutions in Bangladesh with special reference to the public (Union Parishad), non-profit (NGOs) and the private. The main aim of this paper is to explore the ground reality of local governance institutions i.e., how they work, what kind of ground realities are there and how the grassroots people perceive the performance of these institutions. This is an empirical study and the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) method of qualitative research has been followed to collect the primary data from the study area. The data has been collected during April-June, 2005 from north-eastern Bangladesh.

Theoretical Framework for Analysis

Since the issue of local government is an ancient institution with modern concept, it has been defined from different perspectives at various times by the scholars. Simply speaking, local government can be defined as the lowest tiers of governance which are responsible for managing local affairs by the locally elected people. Stones (1963) states that local government is the vital part of the state which deals with the matters of people of a particular locality. Rao (n.d.) more clearly defines the nature of local government. To him, local government is the part of the government which deals with local affairs administered by authorities subordinate to the state government but elected independently of the state authority by the qualified residence (in Shrestha, 2000:6). Stewart (1983:1) categorically emphasizes the political identity of the local government and defines it as a political institution which is responsible for providing state services to the locality. These definitions clearly reveal some common features of local government such as; political and administrative local unit, service provider, autonomous body with decision making authority etc. United Nation (UN) incorporated these all features in a single definition: "the concept of local self-government refers to a political sub-division of a nation or state which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs, including the power to impose taxes or exact labour for prescribe purposes. The governing body of such an entity is elected or otherwise locally selected" (in Siddiqui, 2005:4).

In the literature of governance and public administration, four different local government theories are found. They are: liberal democratic, public choice, radical elitist and Marxist (see for details Siddiqui, 2005:9-21). Among these theories, liberal democratic theory has been considering as an effective theory for national democracy which provides benefits of democracy to the local people irrespective of class, sex, race and religion (see for details Smith, 1985, Mawhood, 1983, Maddick, 1963, Cheema and Rondinelli, 1990, Dahl, 1956, Laski, 1931, Yivisaker, 1959, Uphoff and Cohen, 1980). However, this approach has relatively failed to clearly identify the NGOs and the private sectors as important partners of local governance for the sustainable development of the developing world. It has already been mentioned that the recent decades have been marked by tremendous changes in global politics. The rise of third sectors in developing countries, the changing role of the international aid agencies towards the aid receiving countries, are enforcing practitioners to re-conceptualize local governance, in order to adapt and meet the demands of the changing environment of both developed and developing nations (Turner and Hulme 1997, Clark 1990). During the last few decades, the traditional public administration has also started moving towards the theories of cooperation and networking, to achieve the millennium development goals and to compete with the present global economy (Frederickson, 1999 in Bingham, Nabatchi and O’Leory, 2005:548). Therefore, for this paper, local government is viewed as a networking and partnership based governance system, where all actors and sectors of the state such as public, non-profit, private and the civil society would work together to provide the benefits of the state to the local inhabitants in ensuring good governance and sustainable development of the developing world.

Research Unit

In order to understand the collective view of the local people regarding the role of local institutions, seven PRA sessions (three of which were female groups) were conducted in four different villages of Birunia Union Council of Bhaluka Upazila under the Mymensingh District in the North Eastern Bangladesh. The details of the PRA sessions are presented in Table-2. The participants can be categorized as local school teachers, college and university students, farmers, local businessmen, day laborers, rickshaw pullers, housewives and NGO members.

Table-2: Basic information of PRA sessions

SL.No Date Village Participants Gender Conducted by
PRA-1 25.04.2005 Muhammadpur 40 Male Asaduzzaman et. al
PRA-2 25.04.2005 Muhammadpur 7 Female Asaduzzaman et. al
PRA-3 18.05.2005 North Muhammadpur 22 Female Asaduzzaman et. al
PRA-4 19.05.2005 North Muhammadpur 27 Male Asaduzzaman et. al
PRA-5 18.06.2005 Bhaulia 50 Male Asaduzzaman et. al
PRA-6 19.06.2005 Birunia 9 Male Asaduzzaman et. al
PRA-7 19.06.2005 South Chanderhathi 17 Female Asaduzzaman et. al

Source: Field study April-June 2005

Local Institutions of the Study Unit

Using the different techniques of PRA, the participants identified three categories of local institutions: public institutions, non-profit institutions and private institutions. The Union Parishad is a public institution while local and national NGOs are identified as non-profit institutions. The local rice mills, wood mills, haat bazaars and shops are known as private institutions. The role of these institutions is extensively and explicitly analyzed and presented from the perspective of ground reality in the following texts.

Role of Local Governance Institutions: Empirical Overview

Union Parishad (UP)

The local people of the study unit have identified the UP as a vital institution for the local development. The participants claimed that the UP is the only local body that can create a steady bridge and healthy relationship between the local people and the central government. However, they expressed their bitter and painful experiences about the role of the UP officials.

The majority of the participants claimed that although the UP Officials are elected representatives, they do not serve the interests of the local poor people. From the ground reality, it is learned that the UP officials serve the interest of three groups: ruling party members, local government officials and the local elite. The members of these groups always maintain good relationships with each other, to abuse power and misuse government resources. Most of the villagers believe that abuse of power, mismanagement of project resources and mistreatment are open secrets at the UP level and quite visible.

Intervention of Mini Government

The empirical findings confirm that UP officials are politically and functionally dependent on the leaders of the ruling party and local government officials. The local party leaders are locally known as the ‘Mini Government’. The participants claimed that the UP development activities are controlled by this mini government that has good connections with the central political leaders and the local government officials. The ground reality shows that the UP officials cannot execute and implement their activities effectively unless they maintain a good relationship with the members of this mini government.

Uneven Distinction

The ground reality shows that the UP officials are dependent on the local bureaucrats in various ways. The professional and educational gap between the UP officials and local bureaucrats are also identified as the key factors for this dependency. From the empirical data it is learned that most of the UP officials are less qualified, mostly uneducated, less capable, unskilled and incompetent. On the other hand, local bureaucrats are highly qualified, well trained and competent. Among the thirteen UP officials of the study unit, only four of them have passed grade ten, and the rest are functionally illiterate. At the same time, the educational background of the local government officials shows that the minimum is a Bachelor's degree and the maximum is a PhD degree. Most of the participants categorically claimed that the local bureaucrats are successfully playing a dominating role over the UP officials, capitalizing on such an uneven distinction.

Elite Control

The local elite also influence the routine activities of the UP officials. Like other actors, the UP development programs are controlled by the local elite. Traditionally, the rural elite are known as landlords, and they hold strong power at the local level. Land is the only means of their power. It is learned that although the local elite do not possess any political affiliation, they always favor the ruling party. They also maintain good relationships with the local government officials by dint of their social position. According to the participants, the local elite are popularly known as the vote bank. As a result, the UP officials always favor them and provide undue services and benefits to get their support, especially during the national and local elections. Finally, this kind of dilemma, according to the participants, leads to massive corruption at the local level.

Centre of Mismanagement

Thus, it is observed that the local people are generally least interested in visiting the UP and its officials, because the UP has turned into a center of mismanagement and corruption, rather than being a centre of local development and people’s participation. Therefore, the people rarely meet the UP officials, unless and until they require their help for some legal purposes (birth certificates, citizenship certificates etc.). The female participants also expressed similar opinion.

Democracy Dilemma: Soft vs. Hard

The participants identified the nature of local democracy into two different categories: soft and hard. Soft democracy begins a few months before the local and national elections. They termed this as ‘Vototontro’ (vote-oriented democracy). During this period, the candidates and the UP officials try to be closer to the local people, maintain very good relationship, show their loyalty, and frequently visit their homes. The ground reality shows that voting is a hugely important process for the poor, as this is the only time during which the poor people feel that they hold social and political power. Dhaka city slum dwellers highlighted this situation in this manner: “Without this vote, we have no importance to them (political leaders). Only during election times do they come to us seeking votes, and in this time we feel ourselves stronger than them” (Banks, 2006:15). Hard democracy starts soon after the election has ended. This is termed as ‘Dolotontro’ (party-oriented democracy). The elected officials change their voice and attitudes immediately after taking over their position, and try to be closer to the visible and invisible powerful actors of the locality[iii].

Visible Role of the Invisible Actors

It has been learned that many a times the invisible actors (underground bosses) indirectly influence the functions and activities of the UP. The participants termed it as ‘visible rule of the invisible actors’. The ground realities confirm that although invisible actors are not affiliated to any politics or political parties, they serve the interest of all major political parties. It is revealed that this group uses the UP and the local administration as their secured channel of corruption and extortion. Thus, the role of the invisible actors is also responsible for making the UP a defunct and ineffective unit.

However, despite the criticisms, the local people are still optimistic about the prospect of the UP as an effective local governance institution. Most of the participants considered the UP as the heart of local government and a significant unit of people’s participation. People’s participation in various local development activities, according to the participants, can be predominantly ensured through the UP since it is run by the people’s representatives and located at the bottom of the state and opens its doors to the local people. Nevertheless, the grassroots reality confirms that the crisis of UP is more operational and functional rather than structural.

Role of Non-Profit Institutions of the Study Unit

Many national and local NGOs are found in the study unit. They are: the Grameen Bank, Association for Social Advancement (ASA), Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), PROSHIKA (Prosikkhon Shikkha and Kaj) and the Agroforestry Seed Production and Development Association (ASPADA). The ground reality shows that the word ‘NGOs’ is very popular among the local people and it has become an integral part of their daily life. The local people identified NGOs as their good friend. NGOs are characterized as non-bureaucratic, non-corrupted, non-political, friendly, cooperative and service provider. It is claimed that the NGOs provide more benefits and services to the local poor people compared to the public institutions, and have successfully established and developed a trustworthy relationship among the grassroots by dint of their sincerity and friendly attitudes. Therefore, local people are much more interested in visiting the NGOs’ officials than the UP or Upazila officials.

NGOs: Gift of Nature

The empirical findings reveal that the gap between the local poor people and the public institutions that has been created over the years is now filled in by the NGOs. The villagers explained the matter as “the emergence of NGOs in their area is the best gift of nature for the poor and helpless people and they could not even think of its alternative at this moment.” It is found that a good number of local people are now self-employed with the help of Grameen Bank and other local NGOs. Most of the female participants clearly expressed that it is far better to be a member of an NGO than to run behind the local public institutions.

NGOs: Not a Panacea, but Preventive

In a question, regarding the performance of NGOs, the participants specially the female claimed that they came to learn many things after becoming members of the Grameen Bank. From the NGOs’ officials, they have learned many important issues of their daily lives: education, health, nutrition, small farming and vegetable gardening. Now, they can share and participate in family matters since they are now able to contribute to their family. The ground reality shows that the female participants can write their names, though they do not have any formal education, and it is very encouraging to them. Thus, NGOs have changed their lifestyles and thinking power. The local people cannot even think of an alternative to NGOs at this moment. Capital is important to earn, they said, and the Grameen Bank and other local NGOs are the only source of capital for the local poor. They repeatedly expressed that if the NGOs stopped their activities or left their area, the local people would fall into great trouble.

However, despite the good performance of the NGOs, the participants have also criticized the credit operational system of NGOs and identified two major shortcomings and crisis. Firstly, the weekly installment system is identified as a major problem, which is maintained strictly by the NGOs. The ground reality shows that sometimes the NGO's member takes money from the local money lenders at a high interest rate to pay the installment. Secondly, although the members pay high interest (according to the villagers, the interest rate is 15%) for their loans, they get low interest for their savings (5%). The villagers claimed that it is a clear violation of the rule and is discrimination, and there should be a fair and equal interest rate in both cases. However, from the grassroots reality, it can be said that despite the above limitations, the non-profit institutions play a better role in the development of the local people than the public institutions.

Role of Local Private Institutions

The rice mill, saw (wood) mill, haat-bazaar (local market), rural doctors, and mohila (women) market are identified as the private institutions of the study unit. During the field visit, many rice mills were found in the study area and most of those were located in the local markets. Three saw mills and one Mohila market were found in the Birunia bazaar (one of the big local markets in the study unit) and various shops (grocery, confectionary, pharmacy, restaurants etc.) were located in the local markets. Two big and one small local market were found around the study unit. The local markets are open twice a week, while some shops are open throughout the week. The local people come to these markets to buy their necessities and sell their products. Thus, these institutions operate the financial matters of the local people. Ground realities confirm that although the motives of the local private institutions are profit making, the local people derive good services from these institutions.

The villagers highly praised the role of the Mohila market located at the Birunia bazaar. During the field study, it was seen that the local women were unhesitant in visiting the Mohila market to buy their necessities, since the women entrepreneurs run it. In addition, rural doctors and dispensaries also play an important role in the local health sector of the local people, said the participants. The people prefer visiting the local doctors than the doctors of public health centre for normal sickness, because local doctors are less expensive.

Thus, the local people identified private institutions of the study unit as friendly and cooperative. From the above realities it can be said that as a service provider, the performance of the private institutions is better than the public institutions.

Comparative Scenario

The findings clearly shows that compared to public institutions, NGOs and private institutions have emerged as important sectors in the local development in Bangladesh. It is crystal clear that the poor performance of the public institutions has paved the way for NGOs and private institutions to play an important role in rural society (Sarker, 2003:534). A number of studies claimed that development activities run by NGOs are flexible, innovative, participatory, cost effective, and directed to the poor (Anheier, 1990, Korten, 1991, Hulme, 1994, Tvedt, 1995 in Hossain, 2001:15). According to a World Bank appraisal team, NGOs are more effective than the public institutions in reaching the rural poor (World bank 1995 in Ahmad 2000:21). NGOs are not only reaching out to the poor more effectively but also can deliver services and implement programs more efficiently. They can both mobilize the poor as well as ensure their participation in the program formulation and implementation than the public institutions (Sarker and Rahman 2007).

International Aid Agencies (World Bank 1996, ADB 1993 in Sarker, 2003:534-535) have categorically identified some factors for relative success of NGOs, which can be substantiated by the evidences of the present research: (1) NGOs have been able to organize effectively the rural poor and made them conscious of their own potential; (2) NGOs deals creatively with situation; (3) NGOs have shown that poor people are bankable; (4) NGOs have inculcated market perspective and entrepreneurial spirit among the poor et cetra. Most of the participants of PRA sessions (female groups) of this research claimed that they have gained new lease of life because of the contributions of the NGOs working in their area. Similarly, more than a decade ago, UNDP (1993) recognized the role of NGOs in the following manner:

..many people judge NGOs primarily by their success in improving the living standards of the poor, and there are plenty of individual success stories; the landless have obtained land, farmers are growing more food, wells and boreholes have been sunk, children have been immunized against killer diseases. In these and countless other ways, NGOs have transformed the lives of millions of people all over the world (in Ahmad 2000:23).

Like NGOs, the empirical findings demonstrate the fact that the local private institutions also play an important role in local development. The grassroots people claimed that they get more services and benefits from the local private institutions, although they are profit-oriented. According to the Asian Development Bank (1999), the public sector of Bangladesh is incurring an annual loss of $300 million, equivalent to the amount of public expenditure for health, while private firms account for over 90% of employment and output (in Islam and Farazmand 2008:41). It is claimed that private sector employment norms are more transparent to the central authorities and the general public, as well as to the international financial agencies (Bhaskar and others in ibid). Thus, NGOs and the private institutions are now unanimously recognized for their exceptional ability to reach to the poor people and to provide goods and services to them effectively and efficiently.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the multiple experiences, this study has identified two different factors that reveal the existing threats and challenges for local public institution in Bangladesh. These are classified as the major factors and minor factors. Political intervention and bureaucratic resistance are considered as the major factors, while corruption, weak institutional framework, lack of resources, coordination and adequate knowledge are identified as the minor factors. How these factors especially political and bureaucratic interventions jeopardize and manipulate the activities of the UP have been clearly and explicitly presented in the empirical section of this paper. Considering the grassroots experiences, this study clearly suggests that the minor factors can not be eliminated unless and until the major factors are effectively managed and removed. The key findings are presented in the following manner:

  1. Although the non-profit and private institutions are structurally weaker than the public institutions, functionally they are stronger, friendlier and service provider to the local inhabitants; and
  2. Strong public institutions can not work properly given their various malfunctioning practices whereas with a relatively weak institutional structures, NGOs are able to work effectively due to their good practices even in a dire political and administrative situation in Bangladesh.

Based on these findings, the study suggests that instead of conventional local government system a ‘partnership based form’ of local governance system would work for the future Bangladesh in order to ensure good governance and sustainable development. Over the few years, ‘partnership’ has become one of the most popular key concepts in the vocabulary of sustainable development and good governance of both developed and developing world. It is now widely recognized that the central governments alone are not able to resolve the multidimensional problems, but also local government, civil society, NGOs and the other private institutions should be brought together for concerted action directed towards environmentally and socially sustainable development (Elender 2002). More recently, partnership type of governance approaches have also been both broadened and deepened with the leading EU policies in searching more widely for new ways of coping with profound economic, social and political change in the global world (Elender 2002, Geddes 1998).

Concurrently, the interaction between United Nations and the private and non-profit sectors have gained immense important in order to solve the existing features of poor governance of Asia and Africa. The immediate past UN secretary general Kofi Annan has given more attention on such partnership based governance and claimed that the close interaction and link between and among the private, non-profit, and the work of the UN is a key factor to overcome the present governance crisis of the world. Consequently, in September 2000, the heads of the states and governments adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled "Towards Global Partnerships" (Deacons et al. 2003). Thus, at present, the issue of partnership based governance system both local, central and regional has been widely thinking as an effective form of sustainable development of aid recipient countries like Bangladesh. It is believed that partnerships are shared commitments to pursue common economic goals that are jointly determined by the community’s leadership in both the private, non-profit and public sectors.

What would be the state structure to face the challenges of the 21st century; G Peters has given four different models of governance. They are: (1) The Market model, according to which the private sector can provide better services than the traditional public sector; (2) The Participatory state model, which is different from the market model as it puts more emphasis on greater individual and collective participation by segments of government organizations that have been commonly excluded from decision-making; (3) The Flexible government model, according to which the government should be contextual and flexible. In order to face environmental challenges and changes, and to meet the people’s demands, appropriate and suitable policies should be made by the government; and (4) The Deregulated government model, which focuses on less bureaucratic control, more managerial freedom and recommendation based on societal needs and collective decision-making. In fact, Peters’ models have paved the way for viewing governance from broader and partnership perspectives.

Werlin (2003) also emphasized governance as an integrated system between the soft form and the hard form of political power, and decentralization of power by various methods that affect the behavior of wider circles of citizens, participants and subordinates. Jamil Jreisat (2004:1006) more precisely states that for any national governance system to succeed in an increasingly interconnected, rapidly changing world, it needs to develop a governance system based on a learning and decision-making process, in order to be able to grow and adapt to citizens’ expectations, as well as to operate effectively across shifting boundaries. He further argues that in fostering reform activities, public institutions must rely on their own internal learning process, while adapting to international standards and practices.

However, forming such partnership is not easy in the existing governance structure of the developing world, but it is assumed that to succeed, partnership based local governance system requires cooperative effort based on mutual respect. In establishing partnership based local governance, involvement of all actors and sectors of the state are essential and this must be practical and contextual in the world of fact. Both the aid giving and aid recipient countries have to realize this context in order to ensure sustainable development and good governance. Finally, how this kind of integrated partnership local governance can be established should be the immediate policy agenda in the contemporary discourse governance of the aid receiving countries.


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End Notes

[i][i], accessed on July 20, 2008

[ii] (, visited on 1.11.2007).

[iii] In her research on Dhaka City, Banks (2006) highlighted similar experiences. The key participants of her research claimed that candidates bestow their heads and hands to us during the election, but the same candidates kick us after the election (2006:17).

[iii][iii], accessed on July 20, 2008

[iii] (, visited on 1.11.2007).

[iii] In her research on Dhaka City, Banks (2006) highlighted similar experiences. The key participants of her research claimed that candidates bestow their heads and hands to us during the election, but the same candidates kick us after the election (2006:17).