The past 25 years has seen numerous governments worldwide adopting new institutional forms, such as delivery units and reform labs, to try to improve service delivery. We conduct a systematic global search and mapping of these delivery approaches. We identify 152 instances of delivery approach (DA) adoption from 80 different countries, ranging from the center of government down to provincial and local levels, with an accelerating trend of adoption since 2010. The majority of these include education as a focus sector.

The main finding that emerges from our analysis is that there is no single model that characterises the design of such approaches or the purposes for which they are adopted. However, we do identify a number of patterns, including that DAs in lower-income countries are more likely to focus mainly on output-type goals (as opposed to outcomes), use external consultants, and utilise accountability- and incentive-driven mechanisms relatively more heavily than their counterparts in middle- and high-income countries.

While our findings are purely descriptive and cannot be used to infer whether DAs are effective, they give an indication to policymakers about the menu of potential options available to them in designing DAs. This global mapping can also provide useful context for existing and future country-level case studies that investigate the effectiveness of DAs and seek to explore which designs might be more effective in different contexts and for different purposes.