Three options exist for developing a governance assessment framework:
1. Use a framework that already has been developed and applied in other countries
Very few governance assessment frameworks have been developed solely for a particular country; rather, the most well-known governance assessment frameworks are applied to a number of countries without adaptation to specific country circumstances. Any democratic governance index, national or cross-country comparative study may work as a template for developing a democratic governance assessment framework. Frameworks also are available that have been specifically developed for self-assessments.
This option has several advantages:
The framework has already been piloted and tested, and the experiences of other countries that have used it will help in applying it in the present country.
Existing frameworks, such as International IDEA’s Citizen Assessment of Democracy (hyperlink), will lay out the connections between the conceptual, empirical and operational issues so that much of the work in establishing coherence between these three factors is already done.
In some cases, existing frameworks also may offer measurement tools such as questionnaires and guidance for selecting indicators.
Using studies that have already been undertaken within the country will secure time-series data and allow for identification of progress or regressions within areas of governance.
Using frameworks that have been used in other countries may allow for cross-country comparison and may be useful if there are specific countries with which you wish to compare progress.
However, there are some disadvantages, the most serious being that the framework may not be based on concepts and attributes of governance shared by national stakeholders; does not reflect the most pressing governance challenges and governance deficits in a particular country; and may not be viewed as legitimate by the wider public. Some of these shortcomings may be addressed through adaptations of the framework.
2. Adapt an existing governance assessment framework to reflect specific governance issues within a country
This approach was adopted by the Government of Mongolia, where it applied International IDEA’s Citizen Assessment of Democracy (hyperlink) but broadened the framework to include other existing governance frameworks and added new governance attributes determined and agreed by Mongolian civil society and government (http://www.undp.org/oslocentre/docs07/DGI-Mongolia.pdf). The adaptation was largely achieved by dividing indicators into core and satellite indicators.
3. Develop a new governance assessment framework tailor-made for a country
This has the potential advantage of being based on a nationally agreed conceptualization of what governance means for key national stakeholders in a country, provided it is based on broad stakeholder consultations and/or pre-surveys. This also ensures that the framework is based on national characteristics of democratic governance, that it is contextually specific and grounded, and that it promotes local ownership among key stakeholders. However, the disadvantage with a tailor-made framework is that cross-country comparison or discernment of trends may be difficult. This can be modified by including some key comparative indicators. Developing a new framework also may be more resource-intensive in order to arrive at an operational framework that can be effectively applied, especially in terms of reaching agreement on the key dimensions of governance and its attributes by national stakeholder groups.