Social Institutions and Governance: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa





In 2016, the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet – VR) awarded GLD 7.8 million SEK for Social Institutions and Governance: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa. The project ran from 2017 to 2020 with studies in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia.

This project aimed to develop a unified theory of social institutions to understand how, when, and where they promote good governance and improve daily lives. Efforts to design political institutions and economic policies that promote good governance and development frequently fail and are rarely uniformly successful at the subnational level. This suggests that local norms and rules within societies affect governance and development. However, social institutions – the rules establishing how authority is exercised, actors constrained, and transgressors sanctioned – are poorly measured, insufficiently theorized, and their consequences are often overlooked. This study conceptualized and measured social institutions, focusing on the strength, nature, and content of the norms and rules governing social interactions. Focusing on gender and ethnic relations, it took a multi-method approach, leveraging surveys, experiments, focus groups, and stakeholder interviewers in Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi to examine the links between social institutions and governance. The study yielded important new datasets, allowing researchers to explore theoretical questions of governance and development outcomes, but also aiding policymakers, development specialists, and citizens in assessing needs across communities and establishing baselines for measuring change during policy reforms.

This was a multimethod household survey that formed part of a larger LGPI implementation in Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya in 2019. For information on the LGPI more generally, please see here. In addition to the LGPI, this project also extensively employed Focus Groups to generate social institution-related results.



This document describes how to utilize the LGPI codebook and LGPI data for your research: LGPI SURVEY 2019 - A USER GUIDE.

Dataset Citation: 

Lust, Ellen (PI); Kao, Kristen; Landry, Pierre F.; Harris, Adam; Dulani, Boniface; Metheney, Erica; Nickel, Sebastian; Carlitz, Ruth; Gakii Gatua, Josephine; Jöst, Prisca; Mechkova, Valeryia; Mujenja, Maxim Fison; Tengatenga, John; Grimes, Marcia; Ahsan Jansson, Cecilia; Alfonso, Witness; Nyasente, Dominique; Ben Brahim, Nesrine; Jordan, Jenna; Bauhr, Monika; Boräng, Frida; Ferree, Karen; Hartmann, Felix; and Lueders, Hans. “The Local Governance and Performance Index (LGPI) Household Survey 2019: Kenya, Malawi, Zambia.” The Program on Governance and Local Development, University of Gothenburg: 2020.

Bibtex citation format: 
Author = {Lust, Ellen and Kao, Kristen and Landry, Pierre F. and Harris, Adam and Dulani, Boniface and (co-PIs) and with Metheney, Erica and Nickel, Sebastian and Carlitz, Ruth and Gakii Gatua, Josephine and Jöst, Prisca and Mechkova, Valeryia and Mujenja, Maxim Fison and Tengatenga, John and Grimes, Marcia and Ahsan Jansson, Cecilia and Alfonso, Witness and Nyasente, Dominique and Ben Brahim, Nesrine and Jordan, Jenna and Bauhr, Monika and Boräng, Frida and Ferree, Karen and Hartmann, Felix and Lueders, Hans},
Year = {2020},
Journal = {The Program on Governance and Local Development},
Title = {The Local Governance and Performance Index (LGPI) 2019: Kenya, Malawi, Zambia.},
    url = {}}




This project was supported by the Social Institutions and Governance: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa grant (Swedish Research Council – 2016-01687), PI: Ellen Lust.

Project Funders