The Governance research cluster works across a number of thematic areas that are focused on ensuring citizens are represented and governed fairly in a world of changing state authorities. Our work critically examines public authority and the institutions, networks and politics that shape it. Researchers in the cluster engage with citizens, decision-makers, and powerholders across the globe and at all levels of governance (from local to global) to co-produce inclusive and interdisciplinary evidence to challenge and refine ideas and practice. Our work includes providing technical support to governments, donor agencies, and civil society actors and building research capacity of social scientists in different parts of the world.

The cluster houses researchers that work across four thematic areas: Taxation; Accountability and Public Policy; Gender and Politics; and Conflict. They have backgrounds in political science, economics, anthropology, urban studies, development studies, and international relations, and have broad expertise in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The Governance cluster also has a commitment to teaching and houses the MA Governance, Public Policy and Development programme. Fellows also convene and teach on other MA programmes at IDS, including the MA Gender and Development, and the MA Development Studies, and supervise on the doctoral programme.


Understanding how taxation affects the quality of governance has implications for social justice, inequality, sustainability and security at both global, national and sub-national levels. The International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), housed in the Governance cluster, is globally the leading organisation in its field. ICTD generates research evidence that supports developing countries in raising domestic revenues equitably and sustainably, and it convenes a global network focused on improving the quality of tax policy and administration in developing countries, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

Accountability and public policy

On the other side of the equation, the cluster’s work seeks to generate evidence on state-society interactions that shape the design and implementation of public policy. In particular, we consider questions around making public policy inclusive and accountable, especially to vulnerable and marginalised populations and in more fragile and conflict-affected contexts. The Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme anchors much of this work. Concepts that our work engages with and pushes further include: capacity of state and non-state actors in policy formulation and implementation; the role of states in enabling collective action and accountability; and the interaction between governance and informality. Researchers in the cluster also have a particular interest in studying the role of bureaucracies in implementing inclusive and redistributive public policy, and in understanding the conditions under which democratic governance at the local level can be strengthened. The cluster supports a global network on Democratisation, Decentralisation, Local Governance around this work.

Gender and politics

Despite advancement in women’s participation in politics and the economy, many challenges to gender equality persist. The current pandemic, economic crisis and the rise of populist anti-gender equality forces have emphasised both the persistence of gender inequality and the paucity of policy responses to this. Our work seeks to examine the gendered politics of recognition and redistribution, through empirical work in South Asia, Africa and Latin America. We are especially interested in collective action and feminist struggles for equality in diverse political settings and how they counter backlash, such as through the SuPWR programme, with an emphasis on state-society relations underpinning these struggles for gender equality. Our focus areas include: unpaid care work and its impact on women and girls and the care justice agenda; labour market interventions and women’s economic empowerment (WEE); women’s voting behaviour, political participation and representation at various levels of government; and the gendered politics of implementing policies on social welfare, reproductive and sexual diversity rights, anti-VAW and sexual harassment.


The Governance cluster has a longstanding focus on conflict-affected countries, with several projects seeking to understand the effects of violent conflict on a range of development issues and inform actors intervening in such contexts. The ESRC Funded Trust and Governance project analyses the short and long term effects of violent conflict on inequality and trust in Colombia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Spain and Greece. Two recent projects have been focusing on understanding the effects of violent conflict on education: The REALISE project analyses how violent conflict alters dynamics of marginalisation from education, in particular the intersection of economic, gender, social and political marginalisation, with a focus on the Batwa populations of Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The BRiCE research project, a partnership between IDS and the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Bukavu, analyses how violent conflict penetrates the school environment in Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and affects teachers’ and students’ well-being and capacity to teach and learn. The cluster has also been contributing to methodological debates on the study of violent conflict, notably through a recent ESRC funded project which assesses the relative strengths of new and old media in reporting violent events.

Key contacts



Image of Alexandra Obeng-Gyabaa
Alexandra Obeng-Gyabaa

Postgraduate Researcher

Image of Anuradha Joshi
Anuradha Joshi

Research Fellow

Image of Camilla Reuterswärd
Camilla Reuterswärd

Research Fellow

Image of Colin Anderson
Colin Anderson

Research Officer

Image of Deepta Chopra
Deepta Chopra

Research Fellow

Image of Edmilson Ângelo
Edmilson Ângelo

Postgraduate Researcher

Image of Emilie Wilson
Emilie Wilson

Communications Officer

Image of Fabrizio Santoro
Fabrizio Santoro

Postdoctoral Fellow



Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme for Bangladesh (CLEAR)

The Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme (CLEAR) is a 2.5 year FCDO-funded programme to support an evidence-informed Covid-19 response and recovery in Bangladesh. The pandemic has disrupted production in agriculture, industry and the informal sector- creating a new class of poor....

Recent work

Upcoming Event

Book Launch: The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling

We are thrilled to officially launch the 'Routledge Handbook of Smuggling' with an introduction by its editors, some of its authors, and a discussion of key issues in the contemporary study of smuggling. Confirmed speakers so far Max Gallien, Research Fellow, Institute of Development...

3 May 2022


The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling

The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling offers a comprehensive survey of interdisciplinary research related to smuggling, reflecting on key themes, and charting current and future trends. Divided into six parts and spanning over 30 chapters, the volume covers themes such as mobility, borders,...

Florian Weigand

22 December 2021


Launch of the Tax Treaties Explorer: New data for better negotiation

The use of tax treaties by developing countries is controversial: Best case scenario? Tax treaties help attract foreign direct investment by reducing the risk of double taxation. Evidence for this is weak. Worst case scenario? They become a vehicle for multinational tax avoidance leading to huge...

8 December 2021

Journal Article

Introduction: Feminist Protests and Politics in a World in Crisis

Welcome to Gender & Development’s special double issue on Feminist Protests and Politics in a World in Crisis. This double issue was produced during a global pandemic that has triggered a deep economic crisis and an unprecedented public health emergency worldwide. When we were approached to...

Awino Okech

7 December 2021