Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Enough hand-wringing! Steps to bridge the academic-practitioner divide

moynihanIn recent contributions to GovernanceStephen Del Rosso and Richard French raise the alarm about the gap between the academics and policymakers. These are two different worlds, and its natural some gap exists, but it may not be quite the “canyon” suggested, and there are some practical steps we can take to bridge the gap.

First, Del Rosso and French’s concerns center on political science. While I will defer to other political scientists who wish to rebut their argument, its sufficient to note that political science is not the only field relevant to governance, and other fields, such as economics and public policy, do play a role in policymaking.

Del Rosso ties the fall of political science on an “obsession with method.” I don’t think this is quite right. Better methods generally buy us better causal insights, and presumably policymakers care about this. Few doubt the influence of economists, who have been at the vanguard of methodological innovation.  Read the rest of this entry »

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May 25, 2015 at 7:56 am

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Book reviews: Easterly on experts, quality of government, economic crisis and protest

In the current issue of Governance, Tony Barclay of Columbia University reviews The Tyranny of Experts by William EasterlyEasterly describes “an unholy alliance between like-minded ‘experts’ and autocratic rulers,” Barclay says.  But the argument is marred by “sweeping and shallow generalizations” and “crude, monochromatic stereotypes.”  Read the review.

Chengzhi Yi of the East China University of Political Science and Law reviews The Quality of Government by Bo Rothstein.    The book is “important and enlightening,” although the conceptualization of “quality of government” is “problematic and confusing.”  Read the review.

And Sina Odugbemi of the World Bank reviews The End of Protest: How Free-Market Capitalism Learned to Control Dissent by Alasdair Roberts.  “It is a profoundly depressing text,” says Odugbemi.  “It is also a good read, bracing and forthright.”  Read the review.

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May 18, 2015 at 7:07 pm

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IMF on transnational banking: critical thinking, but conventional policies

In the current issue of Governance, Daniela Gabor examines how the global financial crisis affected the International Monetary Fund’s attitude toward the regulation of transnational banking.  Post-crisis, some IMF officials came to view global banks as “super-spreaders” of systemic risk.  But this critical attitude did not influence policy advice given to individual countries, which continued to take a benign view of transnational banking.  Why the disjunction?  One answer may be the persistence of disagreement within the IMF, or reluctance to confront central banks in member countries, “typically their closest allies in domestic policy arenas.”  Read the article.

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May 11, 2015 at 7:06 pm

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How the BRICS changed IMF views on capital controls

In the 1990s, the International Monetary Fund argued that the free flow of financial capital across borders was a “one size fits all” remedy to many macroeconomic problems.  But the IMF shifted its position after the global financial crisis, conceding that capital controls might sometimes be justified.  Why did the change happen?  In the current issue of Governance, Kevin Gallagher of Boston University examines the role of the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — in challenging the prevailing wisdom.  The IMF was receptive to this challenge because its key economists were already engaged in a “profound rethinking” of existing policies.  Industrialized nations were “caught off guard” by the changes that resulted from the coincidence of these two factors.  Read the article.

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May 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm

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Our new three R’s

openquoteTo bridge the scholarship-policy gap, academics must balance rigor and relevance with a third “R”-readability.  There is no shortage of important  scholarly work that goes unnoticed or unread because of its presentation.

Stephen Del Rosso, “Our new three R’s“, Governance, April 2015

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April 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm

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Insiders versus outsiders on IMF surveillance teams


Protests in Iceland in 2010. In 2006, the IMF praised the stability of Iceland’s financial system.

The IMF spends much of its time monitoring national economies.  But who exactly does the work?  In the current issue of Governance, Leonard Seabrooke and Emelie Rebecca Nilsson use innnovative methods to look at struggles over the composition of IMF surveillance teams.  The IMF’s failure to anticipate the crisis seemed to illustrate the need for increased private sector expertise on these teams.   But IMF staff  successfully resisted this initiative, limiting the number of private sector experts included on the teams.  The pushback reduced the risk that outside experts would jeopardize IMF staff influence over the substance of surveillance activities.   Read the article.

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April 23, 2015 at 3:20 pm

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Response: The theory-practice gap is in fact a canyon

By Richard D. French

rfrenchStephen Del Rosso’s recent commentary in this journal is full of good sense and respect for professorial sensibilities — but unlikely to change the mutual incomprehension which separates policy-makers and academics. The real world, as we revealingly call it, seems likely to take more direct measures to seek ‘relevance’ from academia. Read the rest of this entry »

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April 20, 2015 at 3:01 pm

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