Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category
In the current issue of Governance, Shruti Majumdar reviews Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty and India, by Akhil Gupta. Majumdar says that the book “paints a vivid picture of a Weberian nightmare — a state whose everyday functioning is shot through with neither rationalization nor administrative logic, rather with contingency, guesswork, and ‘barely controlled chaos.’” Free access to the review.
And Clare Lockhart reviews Why Peace Fails: The Causes and Prevention of Civil War Recurrence by Charles T. Coll. The book’s “major contribution,” Lockhart says, “is to focus attention on the critical policy issue of why peace agreements break down and on the central importance of political dynamics following the apparent achievement of peace.” Free access to the review.
It’s widely believed that transparency will improve the perceived legitimacy of governmental decisionmaking. But is that really the case? In the current issue of Governance, four scholars from the University of Gothenberg — Jenny De Fine Licht, Daniel Naurin, Peter Esaiasson, and Mikael Gilljam — use an innovative experimental design to determine how transparency actually affects legitimacy. “The common notion of a straightforward positive correlation between transparency and legitimacy is rather naïve,” the authors argue. “The effect is highly dependent on context and may indeed be negative as well as positive.” Free access to the article.
Also in the current issue, Yeling Tan examines the unexpected ways in which disclosure of environmental information has produced results in China. Read an interview with Yeling Tan on the Governance blog.
Protest in Chile in 2011
Reforms to improve teaching by introducing pay-for-performance schemes usually run into opposition from powerful teacher unions. In the current issue of Governance, Alejandra Mizala and Ben Ross Schneider examine an unusual success story: the introduction of pay incentives for teachers in Chile from 1990 to 2010. The reforms succeeded, Mizala and Schneider conclude, because they were introduced through repeated rounds of negotiations, and also because of the design of the scheme, which introduced collective and then individual incentives for performance. Salary increases also helped to overcome opposition. When students and teachers engaged in large scale demonstrations in 2011, “they called into question nearly all aspects of Chile’s educational system,” the authors say, “but not salary incentives.” Free access to the article.
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.
It is widely agreed that more attention should be paid to the influence of non-economic factors such as institutions on development. But good data on institutions can be hard to find. In the current issue of Governance, John Manuel Luiz, Luis Brites Pereira, and Guilherme Olivera explain how they developed indicators of political and property rights in one country — Mozambique — spanning the past century. They plan to develop comparable indicators for all Southern African countries, providing a better foundation for “exploring the dynamics of economic growth and development over time.” Read the research note.
In the current issue of Governance, Ringa Raudla of the Tallinn University of Technology examines the problems that can emerge when governments outsource the task of providing policy and management advice. Raudla examines the use of consultants during Estonia’s recent experiments in budget reform. The decision to rely on contractors was encouraged by the availability of European Union structural funds. Estonian experience, Raudla concludes, shows how “contractualization of policymaking . . . can lead to inconsistent reform plans, hinder genuine deliberation on the content of reform, and undermine its democratic legitimacy.” Read the article.
Beware of simplistic responses to complex problems of government. That was Merilee Grindle‘s message in the October 2004 issue of Governance. Grindle argued for “a more nuanced understanding of the evolution of institutions and government capabilities.” Read the article. Grindle revisited the subject in 2011, arguing for “situationally determined responses” to governance problems. Read the article. In 2010, Matt Andrews also criticized “one best way” approaches to reform. Read the article. And in 2011, Richard Allen reviewed Alasdair Roberts’ book The Logic of Discipline, which criticized an approach to legal reform that he called “naïve institutionalism.” Read the review.
In the current issue of Governance, Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton University criticizes the use of checklists that are intended to determine whether countries are respecting the rule of law. The problem with checklists, Scheppele says, is that they overlook the malignant effects that can follow when “perfectly legal and reasonable constitutional components are stitched together.” The result is the Frankenstate: a monster created because of unexpected interaction effects. “A Frankenstate pioneer,” Scheppele explains, “is the Hungarian government led by Prime Minister Victor Orbán and his Fidesz political party.” The alternative to simplistic checklists is forensic legal analysis, which anticipates how a constitutional order will work in practice. Free access to the commentary.
States often delegate authority over responses to environmental problems to international organizations — but there is variation in when and how that delegation is done. In the current issue of Governance, Jessica F. Green and Jeff Colgan explain that states “make this decision with care.” Then tend to delegate functions with lower sovereignty costs (such as monitoring rather than rulemaking) and are more likely to delegate when policy preferences among states are heterogeneous. “States remain firmly in control,” Green and Colgan conclude, “deciding how they will permit other actors to help them govern and delegating authority only in those instances.” Read the article.
Legislators always have mixed feelings about delegation. They want the benefits of expertise, but fear loss of control over policy decisions. In the current issue of Governance, Jens Blom-Hansen examines how this tension is managed in European Union. One technique is the use of “comitology” committees comprised of member state representatives, charged with oversight of bodies exercising delegated powers. But comitology committees vary in authority. What determines the variation? Blom-Hansen examines almost seven hundred EU directives and regulations adopted between 1999 and 2006. He demonstrates that comitology control is largely determined by the degree of institutional conflict over content of policy, as well as the complexity of the issue at hand. Read the article.