Bratton’s “Citizen Perceptions of Local Government Responsiveness in Sub-Saharan Africa” Article Evaluation

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 8
Words: 2319
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: PhD

The issues of responsiveness and accountability are the cornerstone of any form of governance. In several sub-Saharan countries, the issues have not received optimum systems of redress. Leaders in local governments have failed to demonstrate accountability and responsiveness in their engagements, a phenomenon that has triggered a negative attitude from the citizens. The article studies the issues and collects data in its quest to substantiate their prevalence. Citizens living in sub-Saharan countries receive services that do not meet their expectations due to the absence of accountability and responsiveness from their leaders. It is apparent from the article that the issues are practical and require timely solutions.

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Concepts and Problems in Sub-Saharan Africa and their Operational Definitions

Some of the concepts and problems that the author is trying to examine in the article include political responsiveness, accountability, corruption, and public attitude. In the quest to deliver services to the citizens, leadership responsiveness is the foundation of trust. According to Omoteso and Ishola (2014), responsiveness is an instrumental concept in the delivery of developmental goals to citizens. Despite the devolution of power to local government, council leaders are not optimizing political responsibility. Inadequate political responsibility and administrative power compel the leaders to impose more taxes and deliver little to citizens who expect more from them. Local leaders give little or no time to citizens, a factor that increases the magnitude of negativity.


Fair distribution of goods and services facilitates accountability. Bratton (2011) states that political responsibility from local leaders fosters trust among citizens, who require better service delivery after giving tax and license fees. In the article, it is clear that leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa have not created an environment, which is all-inclusive and transparent. Selfish interests, inadequate public participation, and consultation before making decisions encourage unaccountability in county governments. The article outlines that central governments need to assess the operations of county governments. Fundamentally, assessment of county governments in terms of their performance facilitates the development and efficient service delivery, prevents malpractices like corruption, and promotes accountability. The article explains that improved service delivery by the local leaders is core in elevating accountability, public trust, and democratic governance. The article notes that the absence of accountability has led to dissatisfaction among citizens. Dissatisfaction is a feeling that emanates because of the unfair distribution of resources from country governments.


From the article, it is evident that citizens should hold their leaders accountable in relation to their actions. The relevance of accountability emanates because of corruption, which is a major problem facing several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In effect, corruption has affected service delivery in the region for several decades. From the article, it is clear that corruption leads to unfair distribution of resources and inadequate accountability. In the words of Adusei-Asante (2013), corruption is one of the main impediments that hamper local government service delivery in several African countries. Citizens who pay taxes yearn for improved services but do not enjoy them because of corruption, which is high in various Sub-Saharan countries. Corruption has initiated bribes among citizens who believe that by doing so they stand a better chance of receiving a service from the county government.

The article elucidates that corruption continues to hamper service delivery in Sub-Saharan countries. Leaders in power do not have the political will to deliver services fairly. The absence of the will to deliver services fairly implies that a large amount of taxes collected go to their selfish engagements. Bratton (2011) asserts that because of corruption, several people have suffered majorly from the way government officials and political leaders use the money collected as tax or fees to achieve their desires. The article explains that to reduce corruption, leaders in county governments should practice open discussions, which promote transparency and fair distribution of resources among citizens.

Application of Theories, Hypothesis, and Research Design

In the article, the author uses lots of expertise to present the prevalent issues. Issues that the author presents include the responsiveness of council leaders, corruption, and accountability. To amplify the quality of his research, the author employs various concepts. The use of practical hypotheses and their clear elucidation is one of the concepts that amplify the quality of the study in question. Moreover, a well-articulated research design comprises another concept that upgrades the overall quality of the research. In the article, the author does not use theories to advance his study, but the concepts used that include hypothesis and research design play an instrumental role in augmenting research quality and conveying the desired message.


The hypothesis that the author presents revolves around the perceptions and attitudes that citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa have towards their political leaders especially councilors. To coin the essence of the hypothesis, the author explains the relationship between the role played by councilors and the perceptions that the citizens have towards these activities. The author states that the expectations of individuals who live in urban and rural areas vary. The variance according to the author makes the study broad and extensive. In an attempt to substantiate his hypothesis, the author highlights the various assumptions that lead to the varying expectations held by rural and urban dwellers. According to Bratton (2011), rural dwellers demonstrate limited expectations, and therefore, when councilors execute several developments, they are satisfied. On the other hand, city dwellers according to the article are more enlightened and understand that it is their right to enjoy the privileges of well-developed states. Moreover, city dwellers know that councilors need to utilize the taxes that they collect in an informed manner, and as such, they compel them to execute a range of developments.

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In compounding the practical nature of the hypothesis, the author uses tables and examines several countries. In his assertion, Bratton (2011) explains that 20 countries were the subjects of the analysis. The article also alludes that the perceptions of the city and urban dwellers were assessed in an in-depth manner. Examination of several countries in Sub-Sahara is one of the factors that improve the quality of the findings. Moreover, by increasing the scale of findings, the article is in a good position to dissect the actual attitudes of citizens and authenticate the hypothesis. In the tables used, the perceptions of individuals fall under social and political categories. Classification of citizen expectations is one of the important skills that augment the scale of findings and compound whether the hypothesis is correct.

Research Design

The research design employed by the author is very instrumental in presenting the desired concepts. Fundamentally, the research uses several strategies in its attempt to address the issue of accountability, responsiveness, and corruption evident in Sub-Saharan leaders. Some of the strategies used by the author include a well-designed and systematic articulation of findings, use of tables, and comprehensive presentation of ideas. From the onset, the article clarifies the problem that it tries to address. The article continues to elucidate the magnitude and scale of the problem. To improve the quality of the research, the author systematically classifies the research. The organization helps the researcher to tackle each concept and address the problem in a detailed manner. Importantly, the article presents the concepts of validity and reliability in its findings. The issues of consistency and applicability are evident all through the study. The data used in the study plays a very important role in demonstrating the extent to which the findings are reliable and valid.

According to the author, citizens in Sub-Saharan countries have negative perceptions of their leaders. Notably, the negative perceptions held by citizens in the region emanate from issues of accountability and responsibility. Negative perceptions and issues of accountability, corruption, and inadequate responsibility is a composition of what the author classifies as the problem. The citizens believe that their leaders especially those at the council levels are not accountable and are unresponsive. In addition, the citizens believe that the leaders are corrupt and misuse the funds that they receive in the form of taxes and fees. In coining the issue of inadequate responsibility, the author uses a range of findings and tables. The findings some of which are presented using tables are important in compounding the issue and its extent in modern societies. Bratton (2011) explicates that citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa believe that their leaders are corrupt and unresponsive. From the findings obtained from the research, it is evident that there is a negative relationship between the citizens and leaders in Sub-Saharan regions.

The arrangement of the study and presentation of ideas makes the research design exceptional. Organization and systematic arrangement of the concepts of the research are some of the factors that amplify the quality of a research design. Therefore, the author’s ability to apply the various factors that improve the quality of information is a demonstration of a well-articulated research design. The research design used questions and tables, which are detailed and elaborate. The nature of questions makes the design high end both to the respondents and to the researcher. Bratton (2011) explains that the research used open-ended and closed questions to draw feedback from the respondents. Moreover, the respondents were also furnished with questions designed using a Likert Scale format. The use of tables and questionnaires demonstrates a design that focuses on drawing maximum feedback from the respondents. It is imperative to state that maximum feedback is a cornerstone that helps in developing a good research design.

Methodological Issues that the Author Should Consider

Some of the methodological issues that the author needs to consider include comprehensiveness and application of relevant theories. From the article, it is clear that the information provided is not comprehensive. Comprehensive information espouses the core ingredient that the author should have considered in his research because the findings have minimal variance. Moreover, to identify the factors that lead to the minimal variance between urban and rural respondents clearly, the author should consider comprehensiveness in the collection of information. It is paramount to explain that while the findings play a pivotal role in bringing crucial information concerning Sub-Saharan Africa to the fore, the case on the ground may be different. The difference occasions because comprehensiveness is absent in the research. According to Bratton (2011), the countries sampled comprise functional county governments that are new and those that have existed for long periods. Without comprehensiveness, the research fails to identify the underlying issues that initiate the glaring problems.

Another aspect that the author should consider is the application of relevant theories that help foster the understanding of the desired concepts. The research is systematic and well designed but is deficient in relevant theories, which relate to the case in question. The author should consider incorporating the theories so that the concerned stakeholders in these regions and other parts of the world experiencing similar problems apply them to address the challenges. It is imperative to state that theories not only help in fostering the understanding of a case in question but also facilitate the effective attainment of solutions that lead to advanced service delivery (Addae-Korankye, 2014). By failing to consider and incorporate a theory in the research, the overall outcome is a professional piece of information that may not be interesting and inspiring before the concerned stakeholders. Therefore, to advance the quality of the research some of the methodological issues that the author needs to consider include comprehensiveness and application of relevant theories.

Improvement of the Research

Some of the factors that should be utilized to improve the research include use of case studies and charts. By using case studies and charts, the quality of research advances and appeals to the concerned stakeholders that comprise leaders of Sub-Saharan regions. Imperatively, case studies that explain how other countries addressed similar problems play an instrumental role in amplifying the quality of the research. By using these case studies, the leaders in the regions sampled by the research understand that their challenges are manageable. Fundamentally, case studies help in the identification of solutions. By looking for case studies from regions that underwent similar experiences faced in Sub-Saharan regions, the research provides insights into the course of action that leaders in Africa should take to address the problems. In the perspective of Brautigam, Fjeldstad, and Moore (2008), assessment of systems of taxation and utilization of resources in developed countries can be helpful in addressing challenges experienced by developing countries. The perspective is an indication that case studies should be part of research that focuses on addressing the issues that affect countries in Sub-Saharan regions.

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To develop research that is high-end and appealing, the study needs to use a mix of charts, graphs, and tables. It is practical to explain that charts, graphs, and tables play an integral role in conveying messages to the target readers. Moreover, mixing charts, graphs, and tables facilitates an advanced understanding of the concepts that the research intends to convey. When researchers use charts, graphs, and tables, they in a way demonstrate the real state of affairs. According to Omoteso and Ishola (2014), charts and graphs are very important in conveying messages concerning the challenges experienced by individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Charts, graphs, and tables go a long way in substantiating the real situation that the research intends to study. Therefore, by incorporating a mix of charts, graphs, and tables, the study would amplify the overall quality of the research and increase its appeal before the target stakeholders.

Other areas that need improvement comprise data analysis, sampling, and research methods. From the article, it is clear that the study did not provide a comprehensive analysis of data that facilitate the attainment of a conclusive outcome. Additionally, the study did not provide clear sampling criteria employed in the collection of data. The issue of sampling is least discussed in the article yet it should be a clear component of the discussion. The study also fails to address and clarify the issue of methodologies followed by the research, an aspect the hampers its functionality and application.


Addae-Korankye, A. (2014). Causes of poverty in Africa: A review of literature. International journal of social science, 3(1), 147-153.

Adusei-Asante, K. (2013). The state of Ghana’s local government system: The case of Assembly Members. Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 4(2), 101-110.

Bratton, M. (2011). Citizen perceptions of local government responsiveness in Sub Saharan Africa. World Development, 40(3), 516-527.

Brautigam, D., Fjeldstad, O., & Moore, M. (Eds.) (2008). Taxation and state building in developing countries: Capacity and consent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Omoteso, K., & Ishola, H. (2014). Corruption, governance and economic growth in Sub Saharan Africa: A need for the prioritization of reform policies. Social responsibility journal, 10(2), 316-330.

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