The recent growth in research on “good governance” and the quality of government institutions has been propelled by empirical findings that show that such institutions may hold the key to understanding economic growth and social welfare in developing and transition countries. We argue, however, that a key issue has not been addressed, namely, what quality of government (QoG) actually means at the conceptual level. Based on analyses of political theory, we propose a more coherent and specific definition of QoG: the impartiality of institutions that exercise government authority. We relate the idea of impartiality to a series of criticisms stemming from the fields of public administration, public choice, multiculturalism, and feminism. To place the theory of impartiality in a larger context, we then contrast its scope and meaning with that of a threefold set of competing concepts of quality of government: democracy, the rule of law, and efficiency/effectiveness.