Horizontal Accountability through the Lens of State Owned Enterprises: A Comparative Study of Argentina and Kenya
Horizontal accountability (HA) between different branches of government has been shown to enhance the performance of state institutions through the provision of effective oversight and a valuable check against the concentration of executive power. However, relatively little is known about the drivers and challenges of horizontal accountability. This paper aims to provide understanding about the determinants of the performance of horizontal accountability in Argentina and Kenya and the institutional conditions under which we could expect to see more or less horizontal accountability.
The researchers analyse the mechanisms through which formal and informal institutions shape the incentives of state actors to fulfil their HA mandates, as well as the capacity of the legislature to make use of constitutionally mandated HA processes. Although Argentina and Kenya have implemented reforms meant to strengthen the role of parliament vis-a-vis the executive, both countries continue to exhibit low levels of horizontal accountability. Identifying the forces shaping HA is therefore crucial; current gaps between the behaviour prescribed by formal institutions and accountability practices are undermining policy outcomes that affect the lives of millions of citizens.
This investigation finds that creating incentives through regulation and formal institutions is necessary but not sufficient for improving horizontal accountability. Changes in informal institutions and strengthened capacities are also required to achieve better outcomes in Argentina and Kenya. Only after profound reforms in these two aspects, will it be possible to foster the effective use of HA mechanisms. In the long run, better incentives will improve the functioning of HA mechanisms, which are critical to improving the quality of governance.
Truphena E. Mukuna
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