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Generalised and Particularistic Thinking in Policy Analysis and Practice: The Case of Governance Reform in South Africa

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This article is concerned with the relationship between generalised and particularistic knowledge in the context of policy-making and policy analysis. It argues that it is problematic to assume that a reform model will generate similar outcomes across a wide variety of contexts. It presents a conceptual framework, including the concepts of transaction domain and domain consensus, that enables context-sensitive analyses. The argument is exemplified by South Africa's introduction in the 1990s of an Integrated Development Planning model, based on British reform experience and various international public-management models. With a case study of such planning in Lukhanji Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province, it illustrates how the conceptual framework may be used in policy research and analysis.

Keywords: Governance; South Africa; development planning; governance theory; institutions; local government; public policy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Lund University, Paradisgatan 5, Box 114, Lund SE-22100, Sweden ( )., Email:

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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