Outcome-based control systems and accountability dilemma in foreign-funded development projects: A Sri Lankan case

Chathurani Rathnayaka*, Kenneth Weir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The topic covered in this chapter is outcome-based control systems and accountability dilemmas in foreign-funded development projects, exploring how power and politics in development agendas create a form of control system and accountability relationship. The chapter specifically focuses on a development project in Sri Lanka, which is one of the Less Developed Countries (LDCs). This chapter explains how multitudes of controls including outcome-based controls create accountability dilemmas in delivering development needs in the context of development. In order to explain issue, a case study has been selected in Sri Lanka, which is an infrastructural development project funded by Asian and Eastern global finance (donor agencies and governments) actors. The study employed in-depth interviews in collecting data to understand and explore the issue. The study demonstrates that despite a shift in local compliance to adopt certain outcome-based controls preferred by funders, donor agencies were still attempting to exert further control by indirectly imposing outcome-based controls; in the case, these were mostly employed through accountability demands. However, these additional accountability demands, induced by outcome-based controls, created forms of governance and controls within LDCs that resulted in accountability dilemmas in LDCs. Notably that recipient governments have to incorporate external controls and accountability demands into indigenous controls and accountability mechanisms while prioritizing external controls and accountability in order to maintain patrimonial relationship between states and donor agencies. Thus, this process re-produces neo-colonial relationships in the face of development finance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Sector Reform and Performance Management in Emerging Economies
Subtitle of host publicationOutcomes-Based Approaches in Practice
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003004103
ISBN (Print)9780367435523
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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