Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category
And Sarah Holsen reviews New Perspectives on Public Services: Places and Technology by Christopher Pollitt. “Pollitt’s goal,” says Holsen, “is to explore how, in the face of technological change, the provision of public services shapes the places in which they are located, how the characteristics of places influences how services are provided, and how the location of government and its services impact the landscape of interaction between government and citizen.” Read the review.
The representation of women in cabinets and legislatures has increased sharply since the 1990s, although it still falls far short of parity with men. What explains the recent shift? In the current issue of Governance, Suraj Jacob, John Scherpereel and Melinda Adams argued that international norms have played an important role. Their study relies on an original global database of cabinet ministers from 1979 to 2009. “A gender-balanced decision-making norm has become embedded in the world polity,” they argue. But the norm still has limits: it is “more likely to generate gains in low-prestige cabinet positions than in high-prestige positions.” Read the article.
Many government policies work only if citizens or corporations comply with their requirements. But what determines whether citizens or corporations will comply? In the current issue of Governance, R. Kent Weaver proposes a better framework for understanding compliance problems, and highlights the difficulties that arise when there is substantial variety within target populations. Weaver applies the framework to Swedish and American case studies that highlight “how variations in barriers and target characteristics affect government responses to perceived policy failures.” Read the article.
The conventional wisdom among government reformers is that transparency is a crucial device for improving accountability and reducing corruption. But the device doesn’t always work. In the current issue of Governance, Monika Bauhr and Marcia Grimes of the University of Gothenburg show that an increase in transparency in highly corrupt countries tends to breed resignation, rather than indignation over corruption. Bauhr and Grimes explain how our understanding of the link between transparency and corruption control “remains more anchored in normative conviction . . . than empirical investigation.” Read the article.
The risk of replacement for top civil servants in Danish central and local government has increased dramatically over the last forty years. But what is driving this change? In the current issue of Governance, Jørgen Gronnegard Christensen, Robert Klemmensen and Niels Opstrup examine four decades of data about senior appointments to determine whether the trend toward increasing politicization found in some western countries also holds for the Danish civil service. They find evidence of “functional politicization”: a practice of replacing career civil servants who do not meet the demands of political executives with other career civil servants. Read the article.
When are aid programs aimed at bolstering public sector institutions in developing countries likely to work? So far, much research has examined the effect of program design. In the current issue of Governance, Agnes Cornell of the Aarhus University considers how bureaucratic instability influences the prospects for success. Examining a range of aid programs in Peru and Bolivia, Cornell shows how high turnover rates compromise implementation, because public servants have less experience and shorter time horizons. And the problem is worse if turnover is driven by politics rather than market forces, because new appointees are particularly reluctant to engage with “old” projects. Read the article.
For many years, the United Kingdom was viewed as a leader in multiculturalism policy. But recent statements by leading British politicians raise questions about their commitment to multiculturalism. In the current issue of Governance, Peter Taylor-Gooby of the University of Kent and Edmund Waite of the University of London ask whether there really is a retreat from earlier commitments among leading policymakers. “Concerns abut the divisive impact of multiculturalism are widely shared,” the authors acknowledge. But multiculturalism is far from dead. On the contrary, policymakers have shifted toward a more pragmatic approach toward accommodation, less reliant on top-down initiatives designed to reinforce the rights and identities of minorities. Read the article.
In a research note in the current issue of Governance, Albert Van Zyl poses “the most critical question for activists and scholars of accountability: How and when does transparency lead to greater accountability?” Van Zyl’s note looks particularly at the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in demanding and using government budget information, drawing on case studies of CSO activity in eleven countries in Africa, Latin America and South Asia. Accountability is achieved, Van Zyl suggests, when CSOs are active and closely engaged with legislators, auditors, and other formal oversight institutions. But research is still needed on the kinds of engagement that are most likely to enhance accountability. Read the research note.
It’s well-established in the American literature on rulemaking that the technical complexity of an issue can be a barrier to public participation. In the current issue of Governance, Milena Neshkova of Florida International University examines sixty rulemaking exercises to determine whether the same problem is at work in the European Commission’s regulatory process. “The technical character of supranational regulation,” Neshkova concludes, “precludes the broader public and elected politicians from assuming a larger role.” Read the article.
Despite a worldwide movement toward privatization, state-owned enterprises continue to play a critical role in many national economies. In the current issue of Governance, Laurenz Ennser-Jedenastik of the University of Vienna uses a large dataset to examine the factors that influence the survival of managers in Austrian state-owned enterprises. His analysis “yields strong support for the notion that partisan congruence between managers, cabinet, and individual ministers is a major determinant of managerial survival.” Read the article.