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Quality of Government: Toward a More Complex Definition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2013

Lund University
Marcus Agnafors is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Lund University, Department of Philosophy, Kungshuset, Lundagård, SE-222 22 Lund, Sweden (


Concepts such as “quality of government” and “good governance” refer to a desired character of the exercise of public authority. Recently the interest in good governance, the quality of government, and similar concepts has increased considerably. However, despite this increasing interest and use, an adequate definition of the concept of quality of government has proved difficult to find. This article criticizes recent attempts at such a definition and proposes an alternative, more complex definition that includes moral content and also encompasses a plurality of values and virtues at its core. An acceptable definition of the quality of governance must be consistent with the demands of a public ethos, the virtues of good decision making and reason giving, the rule of law, efficiency, stability, and a principle of beneficence. The article describes these components in detail and the relations among them.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2013 

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