Step 2: Assessing the likely receptiveness of government to proposals from the EO(1)

Having established a 'capacity to change' the EO needs to assess broadly how its proposals are likely to be received.

2.1 Reasons the EO's proposal may be challenged

2.1.1 There is scepticism towards the effectiveness of the EO's proposal

This may be due to the existing system, or disbelief in the capacity of the government to change, based on deep mistrust between the public and private sectors. This scepticism is sometimes justified by previous failures.

Scepticism can be based on a narrow view of what is possible, possibly combined with ignorance of what other countries have already done.

2.1.2 Legitimate concerns about the principles and design of the proposal and its capacity to protect important public policies

These kinds of concerns are sometimes a self-serving cover for specific interests, but generally can be useful in structuring a public debate about the pros and cons of the proposal.

2.2.3 Personal interest in maintaining the existing system

This is a common incentive explaining opposition to changing the status quo. A wide range of interests get financial, professional, or political advantages from the existing situation. They can be threatened by the EO's proposal to change it.

Incentives can be changed by supplying more information to change perspectives on benefits and costs, while others can be managed by reducing opportunities to influence the proposal, while others are vulnerable only to publicity and transparency that reveals the self-serving nature of arguments.

2.2 Reasons why the EO's proposal may be favourably received

Views are formed by a wide variety of influences that change perceptions about the benefits and costs of a proposal. These "exogenous factors" are part of the larger political economy that provides the context for or against the EO's proposal.

2.2.1 Access to international comparative indicators and empirical studies

Benchmarking indicators by the OECD, the World Bank, country-specific associations, think–tanks, and other sources can greatly facilitate debate on alternative systems.

2.2.2 Increasing competition, caused for example, by entry into a free-trade zone

Fears of intensifying competition can act as a catalyst for change. For example, looming free trade agreements or entry into a new regional trading bloc.

2.2.3 Broader economic reform programmes already under way

If a climate of change is already in place EOs should capitalise on it.

2.2.4 Political changes

Political changes can open new opportunities whereby the EO's agenda is more susceptible. The EO should look for windows of when the time is right to introduce new policy initiatives. For example the new constitution Kenya in 2010 ushered in a period of openness to new ideas.

2.2.5 Crisis

High unemployment and recession can provide a positive context and a concrete goal for the EO's agenda. Crisis is a time when governments are receptive to innovative policy proposals, more so than in good times. It is also a propitious time to pursue politically difficult policy agendas.

2.2.6 Donor pressures

Donors (bilateral or multilateral) may be putting pressure on the government to proceed in a certain direction, for example reform certain systems. This can be a useful pressure point for EOs to exploit.

The assessment summary below will assist the EO in arriving at a final conclusion on how positively or negatively its proposal is likely to be received.

Can the EO’s proposal be effectively costed? Yes / No
Can it include lessons learnt from previous reform efforts? Yes / No
Can it point to workable models from other jurisdictions? Yes / No
The EO in its power analysis can identify who are the likely losers and address genuine concerns in its proposal design? Yes / No
How strong are the groups that will financially or otherwise suffer from a change in the status quo? Yes / No
Can their efforts to block reform be portrayed as self-serving? Yes / No
Can reference to indicators in the EO’s proposal help in making its case stronger? Yes / No
Are there current opportunities or ones that might emerge in the near future that could facilitate the timing of the EO’s proposal? Yes / No
Can the EO’s proposal be linked to other ongoing similar reform proposals? Yes / No
Are there champions of reform that it can tap to help make its case? Yes / No
Can the EO’s proposal be linked to broader political economy changes that would be favourable to its chances of acceptance? Yes / No
Can the proposal be directly linked to job creation? Yes / No
Have preliminary discussions taken place with any Donors or development agencies that could assist the EO in its efforts? Yes / No

(1) Adapted from: "Stakeholder management in business registration lesons from 10 countries" (IFC, 2009).