Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Cited by 11
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
January 2019
Print publication year:
Online ISBN:

Book description

Why do governance reforms in developing democracies so often fail, and when might they succeed? When Democracies Deliver offers a dynamic framework for assessing the effectiveness and durability of policy change. Drawing on detailed analyses of public sector reforms in Brazil and Argentina, this book challenges conventional wisdom to reveal that incremental changes sequenced over time prove more effective in promoting accountability, increasing transparency, and strengthening institutions than comprehensive overhauls pushed through by political will. Developing an innovative theory that integrates cognitive-psychological insights about decision making with research on institutional change, Katherine Bersch shows how political and organizational factors can shape reform strategies and information processing. Through extensive interviews and field research, Bersch traces how two competing strategies have determined the different trajectories of institutions responsible for government contracting in health care and transportation. When Democracies Deliver offers a fresh insight on the perils of powering and the benefits of gradual reform.


Winner of the 2020 SPAR Best Book award in the comparative public administration research

Winner of 2020 Charles H. Levine Memorial Book (Awarded by the International Political Science Association).

Winner, 2020 Donna Lee Van Cott Best Book Prize, Latin American Studies Association

Winner, 2023 Herbert Simon Book Award, American Political Science Association


'Public sector reform in emerging democracies is much demanded, but little understood. This wonderful book convincingly argues that effective and lasting improvements in governance are achieved not by swift, wholesale reform, as commonly believed, but by incremental reforms focused on solving specific problems. This book will change the way we think about bureaucratic reform.'

Frances Hagopian - Harvard University

'When Democracies Deliver takes a fresh look at state capacity-building in Latin America, and lays out the conditions under which it has happened successfully. It is relevant both to specialists in the region and to comparativists interested in general problems of political development.'

Francis Fukuyama - Stanford University

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.