Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science, Public Administration and Public Policy

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Jean-Germain Gros, PhD.


Eduardo Silva, Ph.D.

Brady Baybeck, Ph.D.

Bette Loiselle, Ph.D.


Understanding why some organizations are more effective in their service delivery than others is a central discourse in both public administration and political organization. Scholars and practitioners all agree that the defining factor is institutional (state) capacity. Since the mid-1980s, deforestation in Zambia has been on the rise, especially in Protected Forest Areas, suggesting poor management by the Forestry Department, an institution mandated to manage these public lands. Ironically, despite the strategic position that forests hold in sustaining both the daily subsistence needs of over 90% of the Zambian population as well as the as the numerous industries that depend on this resource, the Forestry Department has not developed any specific strategies/interventions to combat forest degradation arguing that this problem is beyond its control; the department is underfunded and has inadequate forestry personnel to oversee its estates. Yet, the data shows that prior to 1980s Forestry Department operated very effectively on a relatively small budget and a lean structure. Utilizing longitudinal and cross-sectional data, and based on a multi-method analysis, this study explores the nexus between public administration and program implementation on one hand and, the role of politics in policy implementation on the other. Contrary to the Forestry Department?s mantra that inadequate financial outlays and field personnel have been the major factors contributing to forest degradation, this study has found that the problem is managerial incompetence, manifested in lack of visionary leadership, the practice of cronyism and clientelism, the breakdown in social capital support, including support by local Chiefs, and the poor quality of political connection between department managers and the larger political system. Clearly, resource allocation is a necessary but insufficient condition for improving institutional capacity, which is intimately connected to larger processes of governance. And this include, but not limited to, the rules, relationships and partnerships created among different actors, as well as the resultant environment that links these actors to the larger social capital outside ones? locale.