When are aid programs aimed at bolstering public sector institutions in developing countries likely to work? So far, much research has examined the effect of program design. In the current issue of Governance, Agnes Cornell of the Aarhus University considers how bureaucratic instability influences the prospects for success. Examining a range of aid programs in Peru and Bolivia, Cornell shows how high turnover rates compromise implementation, because public servants have less experience and shorter time horizons. And the problem is worse if turnover is driven by politics rather than market forces, because new appointees are particularly reluctant to engage with “old” projects. Read the article.
For many years, the United Kingdom was viewed as a leader in multiculturalism policy. But recent statements by leading British politicians raise questions about their commitment to multiculturalism. In the current issue of Governance, Peter Taylor-Gooby of the University of Kent and Edmund Waite of the University of London ask whether there really is a retreat from earlier commitments among leading policymakers. “Concerns abut the divisive impact of multiculturalism are widely shared,” the authors acknowledge. But multiculturalism is far from dead. On the contrary, policymakers have shifted toward a more pragmatic approach toward accommodation, less reliant on top-down initiatives designed to reinforce the rights and identities of minorities. Read the article.
In a research note in the current issue of Governance, Albert Van Zyl poses “the most critical question for activists and scholars of accountability: How and when does transparency lead to greater accountability?” Van Zyl’s note looks particularly at the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in demanding and using government budget information, drawing on case studies of CSO activity in eleven countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia. Accountability is achieved, Van Zyl suggests, when CSOs are active and closely engaged with legislators, auditors, and other formal oversight institutions. But research is still needed on the kinds of engagement that are most likely to enhance accountability. Read the research note.
The most recent release of SCOPUS journal impact metrics has ranked Governance fourth in the field of public administration. SCOPUS provides data for two impact measures: Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) and SCImago Journal Rank (SJR). Governance is ranked fourth according to both measures. See the ranking.
It’s well-established in the American literature on rulemaking that the technical complexity of an issue can be a barrier to public participation. In the current issue of Governance, Milena Neshkova of Florida International University examines sixty rulemaking exercises to determine whether the same problem is at work in the European Commission’s regulatory process. “The technical character of supranational regulation,” Neshkova concludes, “precludes the broader public and elected politicians from assuming a larger role.” Read the article.
Despite a worldwide movement toward privatization, state-owned enterprises continue to play a critical role in many national economies. In the current issue of Governance, Laurenz Ennser-Jedenastik of the University of Vienna uses a large dataset to examine the factors that influence the survival of managers in Austrian state-owned enterprises. His analysis “yields strong support for the notion that partisan congruence between managers, cabinet, and individual ministers is a major determinant of managerial survival.” Read the article.
District magistrate at work in Uttar Pradesh, India. WikiMedia
Last year in Governance, Francis Fukuyama argued that there were “big and decisive drawbacks” to the use of output measures in assessing government quality. (Read Fukuyama’s commentary.) Two new research notes in Governance take issue with Fukuyama’s position.
“Measuring performance,” says Robert Rotberg of Harvard University, “can best be done by examining outputs (results), not inputs . . . Such a scheme makes epistemological and parsimonious sense. It is is tidy and transparent. And it works.” Read the research note.
Meanwhile Craig Boardman of Ohio State University says that the rejection of output- or outcome-based measures is premature. “A particular government’s quality can and should be assessed,” Boardman says, “not just in terms of its capacity and autonomy (as Fukuyama suggests), but additionally in terms of the outcomes its society values and expects.” Read the research note.