Governance and service delivery Practical applications of social accountability across sectors

By Anna Wetterberg, Derick Brinkerhoff, Jana Hertz

RTI International has extensive experience implementing international donor-funded programs and projects, including single-sector and multisector policy and service-delivery improvement efforts, as well as governance and public management reforms. Drawing on that experience, this collection examines six recent RTI International projects, funded mostly by the United States Agency for International Development, that pursued several different paths to integrating service delivery and governance through engaging citizens, public officials, and service providers on issues related to accountability and sectoral services. The six cases illustrate the multiple ways in which citizen participation in accountability, called social accountability, can lead to positive effects on governance, citizen empowerment, and service delivery. The analysis focuses on both the intended and actual effects, and unpacks the influence of context on implementation and the outcomes achieved.


Wetterberg, A., Brinkerhoff, D., & Hertz, J. (Eds.) (2016). Governance and service delivery: Practical applications of social accountability across sectors. (RTI Press Publication No. BK-0019-1609). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


“This set of case studies provides a rich background to practitioners interested in understanding experiences of social accountability in a varied set of countries and sectors. As the title implies, this is a very welcomed practical volume, and the cases are made even more interesting by a systematic review of both implementation challenges and prospects for sustainability.”

--Helene Grandvoinnet, Lead Governance Specialist, The World Bank

“The six case studies provide a rich and contextually grounded analysis of what has worked in efforts to promote social accountability and why. [They] offer compelling evidence for why it is so important for development actors to think and work in a more politically aware, flexible, adaptive, and iterative manner. The case studies also help to highlight the kind of difference that donors can make when they focus on facilitating spaces of engagement and interaction between state and society. The book should prove invaluable to academics, policymakers, and practitioners alike.”

--Alina Rocha Menocal, Senior Research Fellow, Developmental Leadership Program and Overseas Development Institute

“There are a few recent meta-analyses of social accountability projects, but no systematic case comparisons. It is into this lacuna that Wetterberg, Brinkerhoff, and Hertz step. Their volume provides critical insights, including: programming should flexibly respond to local context; bottom-up approaches cannot work in the absence of a government that is willing and able to engage; and even as social accountability can improve delivery at point-of-service, wholesale changes in service delivery outcomes often depend on higher-level political-economy dynamics. Donors, implementers, and academics alike would all be well-served by giving this excellent book a careful read.”

--Erik Wibbels, Robert O. Keohane Professor of Political Science at Duke University


Anna WetterbergAnna Wetterberg, PhD, works as a social science research analyst in RTI’s International Development Group. Dr. Wetterberg has more than 10 years’ experience working on research and operations in international development. In Indonesia, she managed a research and training program at the Ministry of Agriculture, led research on local-level institutions for the World Bank, and contributed to the monitoring and evaluation framework for the country’s largest poverty alleviation and participatory planning program. Dr. Wetterberg’s current research interests include state-society relations, corporate social responsibility, and international labor standards.

Derick BrinkerhoffDerick W. Brinkerhoff, EdD, MAdmin, is Distinguished Fellow in International Public Management, RTI International. Dr. Brinkerhoff was a decentralization policy advisor to LGP, with short- term visits to Iraq in 2003, 2004, and 2010. His research interests include governance in post-conflict transitions, decentralization, citizen participation, and policy implementation.

Jana HertzJana C. Hertz is a Senior Policy and Governance Specialist at RTI International in the Governance and Economic Development Division. Ms. Hertz has over 18 years’ experience working in Indonesia on knowledge-to-policy, public service delivery, social accountability, civil society strengthening, and decentralization. She holds a master’s degree in international communication (international relations) from American University’s School of International Service.

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