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Title: Hybrid land governance and the politics of institutional change in Ghana : explaining divergent trajectories
Author: Ayitio, Joseph
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 5719
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2019
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Much of the promise of governing Africa’s land market since the 2000s has rested on reforms aimed at getting the right institutions in place, sometimes by creating new hybrid regimes to make formal and customary administration more compatible. Such ‘institutional fix’ strategies are often frustrated because the new institutions themselves are embedded in existing structures and power relations that shape the priorities, political preferences and interpretations of social actors affected by them. The thesis argues that attempts to develop new hybrid institutions for land governance at the local level in Ghana between 2003 to date under the Land Administration reforms illustrates this dynamic. By providing greater understanding about the conflictual and political process of creating new hybrid institutions in urban settings, the thesis aims to contribute to debates about how to operationalise hybrid land governance practices at scale in ways that facilitate equitable land development. Conclusions were drawn from case study analysis of three urban communities that have benefitted from a long period of government’s attempts to institutionalize new hybrid institutions for land governance: Gbawe in the Ga south municipality (Accra), Ejisu and Juaben both located in the Ejisu- Juaben municipal area (Kumasi). Building on historical institutionalism and ideational theories, the analyses focused on why attempts to make customary tenure and statutory law compatible under the Ghana Land Administration Program are producing widely diverging outcomes in the country. The thesis explores this divergence in relation to three critical aspects of urban transformation: land governance, local land use planning and urban land value capture. The research results suggest that whether state interventions induce institutional change or not depends on customary actors’ political priorities and the extent to which they valued compatibility between customary and formal institutions. These differing political priorities impelled customary actors in Gbawe and Juaben to implement the new hybrid arrangements by preparing the ground. Customary actors prepared the ground by reflecting on existing institutional arrangements, conceiving and ‘selling’ persuasive new proposals that appealed to shared cultural understandings of targeted supporters. On the contrary, in Ejisu customary actors’ political priorities incentivized overriding these new hybrid institutions in the interests of political and economic gain. This study argues that the chances of achieving transformative hybrid regimes in land governance is enhanced when government’s layering efforts when they activate existing potentials generated by supportive customary actors, and when it limits their ability to counter change. In addition, it suggests that theories of institutional change that focus on the largely theorized positive outcomes of hybrid regimes may miss the extent to which existing institutional context and the actors empowered within them can shape the course of reform, either by (un)intentionally interpreting or redeploying new institutions to new goals that may be inconsistent with national land policy objectives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral