The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Archive for the ‘commentary’ Category

What’s wrong with Washington? Ornstein says it’s tribalism

“If we are not in the most dysfunctional period in our history,” says Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, “we are certainly in the top five.”  The problem isn’t just ideological polarization, Orenstein argues in a new commentary for Governance.  It’s tribalism — “an approach were if you are for it, I am reflexively against it, even if I was for it yesterday.”  Many factors encourage tribalism: skewed redistricting, campaign financing, and the transformation of mainstream media.  And the consequences are profound.  “Political dysfunction,” Ornstein concludes , threatens “the health, well-being, and future prospects for the country.” Free access to the commentary.

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February 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm

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How do you deal with Frankenstates?

In a commentary published in Governance last October, Kim Lane Scheppele examined the problem of “Frankenstates” — nations that conform to  good governance checklists but are still dysfunctional, because of the malignant interaction effects that follow when “perfectly reasonable constitutional components are stitched together.”  Scheppele cited Hungary as an example.  Read the commentary.  In a recent contribution to a European Commission forum on EU justice policies, Scheppele proposes a new approach for dealing with Frankenstates.  Drawing on her commentary, Scheppele says that the Commission should broaden its field of vision to evaluate such interaction effects.   Read the discussion paper.

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February 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

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Can political scientists help to close the expectations gap?

Mind The Gap In the spring of 2014, it will have been forty years since Trilateral Commission set up the task force that wrote the influential report, The Crisis of Democracy.  In the new issue of Governance, Matthew Flinders of the University of Sheffield says that report “continues to hit a contemporary chord.”  Politics in the twenty-first century, he argues, is distinguished by “pessimism about the future of democracy.”  Read the commentary.

The underlying problem is the persistent gap between the public’s demand for public services and the capacity of politicians to supply those services.  In the twentieth century, the “default option” of politicians was to close that gap by increasing supply.  Today, that option is “simply not viable.”  The only way of closing the gap will be by reducing unrealistic public expectations.  Political scientists can contribute to this work, Flinders says.  But to do that, they must do a better job of engaging in public debate.  Political science, he argues, “has become increasingly irrelevant within the social and political sphere.”   Watch Matthew Flinders discuss his commentary on YouTube.

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December 16, 2013 at 11:12 am

Fukuyama discussed in Pakistan, Russia

Francis Fukuyama‘s commentary What is Governance?, published in the current issue of Governance, continues to attract international attention.  Bronislav Mazur, writing on the website of the Russian International Affairs Council, says that Fukuyama’s article has relevance to reform of the Russian armed forces.  More autonomy for the military will improve its capacity to achieve greater efficiency, Mazur says.  And Jamil Nasir draws on Fukuyama’s article to discuss governance reform in Pakistan’s The News.

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June 29, 2013 at 7:06 am

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What is governance? Fukuyama replies

In March, Governance published  Francis Fukuyama’s commentary “What is governance?”  Over the last eight weeks, the Governance blog has posted several responses to this commentary.  (See below.)  Here, Francis Fukuyama replies.

FukuyamaI’m very grateful to the journal Governance and its co-editors, Robert Cox and Alasdair Roberts, for publishing my piece, “What Is Governance?”, and to the many scholars and specialists who responded to it.  The reaction has been very helpful to my own thinking, and hopefully will be the basis for more discussions to come.

The vast majority of the comments centered around the criticism that I had chosen too narrow a concept of governance.  This was a problem in two particular respects:  first, that I had deliberately and inappropriately excluded substantive policy goals and normative criteria from my definition of governance (e.g., Visvanathan, Flinders, Kumar) and second, that I had defined governance as a characteristic of states, and within states of executive agencies, in a world in which governance is a function being provided by a wide variety of actors (e.g., Risse, Levi-Faur, Hale, de Renzio).  Read the rest of this entry »

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April 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

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Kumar discusses “What is governance?”

Last month, Governance published  Francis Fukuyama’s commentary “What is governance?”  Here,  Professor Sudhir Kumar offers a reply to the commentary.  (Read earlier responses further down on the blog).

SudhirKumarFrancis Fukuyama suggests an alternative approach to measure governance which focuses on four aspects: procedural measures, capacity measures, output measures, and measures of bureaucratic autonomy. Fukuyama also argues that in order to better understand and measure governance, it needs to be separated from the concept of democracy. For him governance is about government’s ability to deliver. He also stresses upon the need to separate the ‘outcomes’ as an indicator of governance. Read the rest of this entry »

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April 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

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Is Mahbubani too optimistic about Asia’s rise?

Last month, Governance published  Francis Fukuyama’s commentary “What is governance?”  On March 26 we posted a response from Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kwan Yew School at the National University of Singapore.  Dean Mahbubani’s response was also published in the Singapore Straits Times.  In this column, reprinted from the April 8 Straits Times, Sun Xi replies to Dean Mahbubani:

Straits TimesPROFESSOR Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, has been described as “the muse of the Asian century”. He is widely known for his famous idea, “the rise of Asia and the decline of the West”.

His full perspectives on the idea can be intensively explored in his books – The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift Of Global Power To The East, and The Great Convergence: Asia, The West And The Logic Of One World.

As an Asian youth, I am actually very receptive to his idea of the rise of Asia, since it gives us an unprecedented dose of confidence in our future.  However, Prof Mahbubani’s idea also casts a doubt in my mind: Is he too optimistic about Asia’s rise? Read the rest of this entry »

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April 10, 2013 at 7:49 am

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Fung Institute’s Sheng discusses “What is governance?”

ShengIn Sri Lanka’s Sunday Island newspaper, Andrew Sheng, President of the Fung Global Institute, discusses  Francis Fukuyama’s commentary “What is governance?”.  Fukuyama, Sheng says, “has helped to clarify the methodology in thinking about the tradeoffs between the ability to have high discretion versus being bogged down by excessive rules, and high capacity to execute, versus low capacity to execute. . . . [And] he has decided to remove any suggestion that democracy is automatically associated with good governance, appreciating that ‘an authoritarian regime can be well governed, just as a democracy can be mal-administered.’” Read Sheng’s response.  The Fung Global Institute is a Hong Kong-based organization that generates  innovative thinking and business-relevant research on global issues from Asian perspectives.

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March 31, 2013 at 7:28 am

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Peter Hall: Will crisis produce a paradigm shift?

189In the current issue of Governance (26.2, April 2013), Professor Peter Hall of Harvard University provides a commentary on the possibility of a “new policy paradigm specifying major shifts in economic and policy” following the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

A new paradigm will have to do more than address economic troubles, Hall says.  “It will also have to speak to the quintessential political dilemmas of an age in which many have lost faith in the capacities of the state, worry that redistribution to others will mean less for them, and wonder to whom they owe solidarity in a rapidly globalizing world.”

The commentary is part of a special issue marking the twentieth anniversary of Hall’s influential 1993 article, “Policy Paradigms, Social Learning and the State.” Free access to the commentary until April 30.

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March 27, 2013 at 6:30 am

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Mahbubani on “What is governance?”

kishore-mahbubaniKishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, responds to Francis Fukuyama’s “What is governance?”:

Francis Fukuyama has done the West an enormous favor with his essay on “What is governance?” He is subtly introducing a distinction between democracy and good governance, a distinction which is almost inconceivable in Western minds.

To put it bluntly, democracy is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for good governance. And, yes, it is possible to have good governance without democracy. Anyone who doubts this should look at the record of China’s government over the past thirty years. It is not perfect but it has lifted more people out of poverty, educated more people, increased their lifespans and generated the world’s largest middle class. No other society in human history has improved human welfare as much as the Chinese government. It would be insane to deny that China has enjoyed “good governance.” Read the rest of this entry »

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March 26, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Posted in commentary

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