Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Archive for the ‘commentary’ Category

The New Zealand model, thirty years later

Finance Minister Roger Douglas announces 1984 Labour budget

Thirty years ago, on July 14, 1984, New Zealand voters elected a Labour government that launched a far-reaching program of public sector reforms.  The “New Zealand model” became famous around the globe.  In the current issue of Governance, Jonathan Boston and Chris Eichbaum of Victoria University examine the long-term effects of the reform program begun in 1984.  Neoliberal reforms triggered electoral changes that made full realization of the neoliberal program impossible.  Today, they write, “there is evidence of not one but two unfinished intellectual projects” — the neoliberal revolution, and the constitutional pushback.  Free access to the commentary.

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June 10, 2014 at 5:35 am

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Work in progress: How should public policy studies change in the Asian Century?

MSoG_Horizontal_3DLogo_A4_RGB[1] copyThis is a working draft of a commentary By Sara Bice and Helen Sullivan of the Melbourne School of Government that will appear in the October issue of Governance.  Leave your comments below or email the authors directly.  The commentary will also be discussed at a roundtable at the Melbourne School of Government on May 20.  More details about the roundtable.

Western approaches defined the 20th century emergence of policy studies as a distinctive scholarly field. In the 21st century, the ‘ascendance of Asia’ will demand critical reflection on how we define public policy, administration and governance; what public policy entails; and how it is managed and implemented. Will Harold Lasswell’s post-war vision of policy studies as a cross-cutting discipline capable of informing the decisions of industrial societies maintain salience? Or do the extraordinary changes wrought by globalisation demand a new orientation for policy studies?

We argue here that the construct, content and conduct of policy studies must respond to the challenges and opportunities of the ‘Asian Century.’ At its core, the ‘Asian Century’ presents a global milieu where economic, cultural, political, environmental and social issues will be heavily influenced by growth and activities in the Asian region. Only through acknowledging and responding to these influences might policy studies equip current and future public managers with the capabilities and skills necessary to create and manage policy successfully. Read the rest of this entry »

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April 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm

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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

Posted in commentary

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

Posted in commentary

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

Posted in commentary


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