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Alternative thinking on governance: a critical analysis of structure and uncertainty in embedding good governance at the local level in Tanzania Open Access


Other title
Local Government
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Mgonja, Boniface Eliamini Samwel
Supervisor and department
Lightbody, James (Political Science)
Examining committee member and department
Aitken, Rob (Political Science)
Urquhart, Ian (Political Science)
Harder, Lois (Political Science)
Smith, Patrick (Political Science, Simon Fraser University)
Wilson, Sam (Economics)
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
One of the most challenging questions that a political comparativist can grapple with in today’s world is: Why do some countries and their systems of governance fail while others succeed? As a student of comparative politics, I have been grappling with a similar question for some time now: What is wrong with development initiatives in Africa? This is the major question motivating my research. In this dissertation, I apply a new institutional approach to an exploration and analysis of the fundamental institutional issues of the current local governance system in Tanzania. Specifically, this study investigates and reflects on the relationship between institutions and governance in local political settings and analyzes the impacts of institutional factors on good governance, particularly at the local level, in Tanzania. Of particular importance in this study is the precise analysis that I provide of contemporary governing practices in Tanzania since the inception of the Local Government Reform Program (LGRP) in 2000. This is used to compare current governing practices to the conceptions of how they were expected work after the end of the program in June 2008. I used documentary research to identify fundamental issues in local governance in Tanzania. From this checklist, a selected few of the problems, ones that are common to all local government authorities (LGAs), were chosen as the foci of the research. Then, in order to explore the relationship between the selected problems and the institutional framework, a case study of four LGAs in Tanzania was employed. I have argued in this dissertation that Tanzania’s development outcomes (good governance and reduction of systemic poverty) are greatly influenced by the country’s institutions of governance. However, my research findings show that the role of institutions that are deemed necessary for the achievement of local development goals and good governance in Tanzania has become severely simplified if not forgotten. Drawing on the discussions and findings of each chapter in this dissertation, I came to the conclusion that when the system of governance is malfunctioning, then something must be wrong with its institutional mechanisms. This is what I have described in this study as “alternative thinking on governance.”
License granted by Boniface Mgonja ( on 2010-04-02T08:55:58Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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