Good governance has been declared as the key target of most Asian governments, but it appears to be an unattainable objective. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potentials for establishing governance across Asian countries. Drawing upon the literature and experience of Asian countries, the study argues that governance represents an unclear state that is rooted more in perception than reality. An extensive review of the indicators of governance reveals the anomaly and unorganized efforts to measure it, and points to the need for recognizing accomplishments in areas that are not directly or indirectly covered in the existing schemes of assessment.
The paper is based on a broad review of the literature on governance and political systems in Asian countries. Existing arrangements for assessing governance are critically reviewed to point out the risks in a perception-dependent approach. Secondary sources and insight obtained from relevant research constitute the data analyzed in the paper.
The paper finds that the target of good governance cannot be fully achieved due to the significant diversity across Asian countries as well as varied perceptions held by assessors. Stakeholders have different perceptions about the requirements and ideal of governance and existing tools for measuring governance are inadequate. Most importantly, assessment frameworks do not recognize contextual dimensions that are relevant to Asian countries. Furthermore, it is important to recognize efforts that are aimed at improving conditions instead of working toward an absolute outcome of governance. Recognition of small successes will contribute to the improvement of circumstances rather than ranking countries on the basis of a limited number of perception-based indicators and listing them on international indices.
The paper does not draw upon primary sources of information and is limited to an assessment of existing arrangements.
The paper will help draw attention to the limitations of existing arrangements of assessing countries and ranking them for the quality of governance. It will also encourage researchers to think about alternative tools for assessing governance and recognizing progress in Asian countries.
The paper will encourage governments to identify obstacles to good governance and adopt policies to overcome them.
The paper contributes to the literature presenting a critical view for encouraging alternative approach to governance, incorporating perceptions of diverse stakeholders and highlights the need to recognize progress, however limited, in all areas.