The research project Improving Access (www.ImprovingAccess.Org) was developed by an international group of researchers interested in innovations in democratic governance. This partnership between the Ash Institute at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the Centre for Government Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands has resulted in the production and organization of research, conferences, publications, and teaching materials.
Entrepreneurs may have the right to start a business, but if getting the licenses and capital needed is burdensome, they do not have real access to the economy. Women may have the right to participate in village groups, but if social norms and perceptions pressure them to stay out of it, they do not have real access to decision making. People may be entitled to social benefits, public services or legal protection, but if the responsible institutions fail to perform, inequitable access is the result. The research project Improving Access explores the ways in which democratic institutions fail or succeed to create genuinely equal opportunities.