Governance success in the Caribbean through broad participation and constant information

OXFORD – The governments of small countries deliver excellent results when they involve as many local players as possible, including opponents. Dr. Scott Douglas from the University of Oxford concludes this on the basis of his research into governance success stories on Aruba, Curacao, and St. Kitts.

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For his PhD-thesis at the English university, Douglas compared sixteen government-owned public utilities in the Caribbean, who were responsible for energy, water, or infrastructure. This group included both high and low performing organizations. In his conclusions, Douglas does not discuss specific cases, but compares successful and failing styles of governance. The standard for good governance, suggests his research, is not lower than in larger countries. The way this is achieved however might be different.

Successful organizations, the research indicates, are characterised by a governance style which is both strict and open. The rules are consistently applied, but employed to give as many actors a role as possible. In addition, strong organizations give room to strong leaders. Finally, successful organizations constantly spread background information, also informing opponents of the policy. Scott Douglas: "Government officials become successful when they dare to strengthen others."

The research presents a structured analysis of several governance successes, but does not claim to have found the one and only recipe. Scott Douglas emphasizes: "There are probably more important ingredients. Everyone can explore this for themselves, by starting with the question: What goes currently well in the public sector?"

Several open seminars will be organized across the different islands throughout January. This Great Governance Tour is made possible with the support of Berenschot International, USONA, Alexander & Simon, and United Trust. A short, practical guide to governance successes has been written as well, this is freely available from