In the current issue of Governance, Jane Gingrich examines a paradox. A large scholarly literature says that change is difficult in the public sector. But the public sector has in fact changed substantially over the last two decades. Better theory is needed to explain when and how institutional change happens. Gringrich identifies three different types of costs to change, and explains how different combinations of these costs can lead to different patterns of policy change. Gingrich uses British and American experience in healthcare and welfare reform to illustrate her argument. Free access to the article.
Alvin Almendrala Camba reviews Participatory Governance in the European Union by Karl-Oskar Lindgren and Thomas Persson. “Despite its limitations, this is a fresh and timely contribution to the governance literature.” Free access to the review.
And Nafis Hasan of Azim Premji University reviews Corruption and Reform in India by Jennifer Bussell. The book is a “bold attempt to identify the reasons for the difference in quality” of computerized service centers that were supposed to reduce corruption in Indian state governments. Free access to the review.
How does the state actually work in post-Soviet Eurasia? Put aside the notion that these countries are moving toward modern liberal democratic statehood, Johan Engvall of Uppsala University argues in the current issue of Governance. What is evolving, instead, is the state as a kind of investment market, in which would-be officials invest in offices to obtain access to streams of income associated with those offices. Drawing on fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan between 2006 and 2013, Engvall explains how the system works. “Office-holding,” he says, “resembles a rather uncertain franchise-like agreement.” Free access to the article.
During the first weeks of 2015, the suspicious death of a federal prosecutor put Argentina in the global spotlight, highlighting once again the need for strong, accountable democratic institutions. Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment on January 18. He had been investigating the 1994 bombing of Argentina’s Jewish mutual aid society (where 85 people were killed and 300 injured). He died hours before a congressional inquiry into his criminal complaint that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her Ministry of Foreign Affairs had tried to obstruct the investigation by signing a secret agreement with Iran to absolve suspects in return for economic advantages. Read the rest of this entry »
“Criticism of the capacity of the state to deliver quality services has become widespread, generating cynicism and undermining trust in government,” says Carlos Santiso of the Inter-American Development Bank. In a commentary for Governance, Santiso identifies the three key steps toward improving government performance in Latin America and the Caribbean: creating “agile centers of government”; fostering a “technically competent and fiscally sustainable civil service”; and using new technologies to promote transparency. Free access to the commentary.