In recent contributions to Governance, Stephen 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 »
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.
To 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
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.
By Richard D. French
Stephen 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 »