Research Methodology: Governance Scorecard Model©

With this research, we aim to contribute to the development of governance culture in local governments, particularly the municipalities, and support the efforts for raising citizens’ quality of life. Following the reform process in municipalities that started upon the passage of the Law No.5393 on Municipalities, a municipality model harmonized with the internationally accepted norms was introduced. The Law empowered the municipalities in terms of their duties and authorities, and paved the way for a general recognition of good governance principles’ importance. Creating a participatory, inclusive, transparent and accountable municipal structure was the main objective of this process.

The citizen is the heart of this research, which is conducted on the basis of objective and concrete data. In this context an evaluation is made, by making use of the data accessible to citizens, as to what extent a good governance approach has been embraced – an approach that would strengthen the citizens’ trust in public institutions.

Our findings about the municipalities’ implementation of good governance in different processes, in line with different principles, and by means of learning and improving, constitute a guideline in this respect. This is the point where our study differs from currently available local and international studies on this subject. Readers will find a step-by-step description of practices that should be adopted in various areas by those municipalities where good governance principles are adopted and internalized. Help was sought from proficient academics and our Advisory Board members with their rich practical experience in this area, in identifying these steps and depicting the structure itself. Our Advisory Board’s invaluable contributions to the work done served as a beacon in showing the best way to proceed. The guidance we received from, first and foremost, Fikret Toksöz, our project leader; from Dr. Yılmaz Argüden and ARGE Consulting as our founding donors; our Advisory Board Members Prof. Emeritus Korel Göymen, Prof. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Assoc. Prof. Erbay Arıkboğa and the retired governor Enver Salihoğlu was crucial in fulfilling our study’s objectives in every aspect, especially in terms of the theory, measurement methods, legislation, and implementation recommendations.

Within the scope of this study out of 39 district municipalities of Istanbul 37 were subjected to an assessment, as the two municipalities excluded, that of Adalar (Prince Islands) and Şile, are not required to prepare a strategic plan under Law No. 5018. Our study, aiming to contribute to raising Turkish citizens’ quality of life, covers Istanbul district municipalities inhabited by around 23.9 percent of Türkiye’s 62 million population. Although the scoreboard we present to our readers is meant for Istanbul district municipalities, it provides an example for all municipalities in Türkiye. We intend to extend its scope to cover other provinces too, in the hope that it will also serve as a guideline to be helpful on an international scale as well.

Evaluation Methods with Prof. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu

“We measured the performance of the good governance of the 37 municipalities of İstanbul. We tried to produce an overall scorecard per municipality corresponding to each and every of these criteria of good governance and try to show how well they perform these functions of good governance and how they can improve themselves within the confines of their resources and capabilities. Our Research is not only confine to Türkiye; since we use a guidelines UN’s own Governance Report of 2012 and the Good Governance measures of European Council.”

Our Model

In this study we analysed good governance in municipalities on three aspects, each of which complements the other, and constitute an inseparable whole for municipalities committed to good governance culture.

First level is about the processes;

  • Governance in the decision-making process
  • Governance in resource utilization
  • Governance in delivery of services
  • Organizational infrastructure

The second involves good governance principles;

  • Representation and participation
  • Fairness / Equity
  • Responsibility and responsiveness
  • Effectiveness and efficiency
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Consistency / Coherence

The third is related to the implementation of measuring and learning cycle;

  • Establishment of a structure in line with good governance principles
  • Effective and consistent implementation of the principles set in the structure
  • Measurement of each implementation, and assessment of the results with a view to improve the governance climate

Gathering the Data

An important aspect of our work was the manner through which we gathered the relevant data. We took great care to maintain the citizen’s perspective in collecting the data to be used. Local governments are areas where the citizens get into touch with the public administration most frequently, and they are among the bodies, which make the greatest impact on their quality of life. The citizen-centric conception of good governance in municipalities tends to gain ground on international scale. Therefore, four channels were used in gathering the relevant primary data, as described below:

  1. Information and data, such as reports, strategic plans, information related to financial performance, activity reports, etc., accessible by citizens through municipalities’ web sites. These are collected in a data-based and objective manner by senior research specialists experienced in local governance.
  2. Data obtained under the “citizens right to information” legislation. Law No. 4982 published in the Official Gazette No. 25269 sets the framework for exercising the citizen’s right to information in line with the principles of equity, impartiality and openness, as prerequisites of democratic and transparent administration. All citizens can exercise this right. In a survey conducted by Baig, Dua ve Reifberg (2014) link was established between citizens’ dissatisfaction and their inability to obtain response to their queries within a short time. Therefore, it is very important for citizens the municipalities’ success in concluding queries efficiently, fast and correctly. With this in mind we identified our topics, each involving at least one good governance principle, for which we demanded information from a municipality. This stage of gathering data was conducted in cooperation with Sabancı University students. Each student asked information on a topic she/he chose, simultaneously from the 37 municipalities by following the legally required steps. We evaluated the responses obtained within the 15-day period laid down by the law. The responses delivered outside this period, or oral statements or lack of any response were considered as failure in responding the query on the part of the relevant municipality.
  3. Another method we employed for obtaining data was the questionnaire we prepared for the neighborhood headmen. We gathered the questionnaire results and separately analysed these and reported for the purpose of this study.
  4. Lastly, we examined the pieces of information, reports and meeting minutes published on the city councils’ web sites, to evaluate the municipalities’ good governance performance by looking at the role played by the city councils.

To read more about our methodology, please check the From a Citizen’s Perspective: Governance Scorecard of Municipalities for İstanbul Districts publication.