Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category
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.
It’s commonly accepted that public sector reforms in Western democracies have caused a shift from government to governance. But Philippe Koch argues in the current issue of Governance that reform in Swiss metropolitan areas in the latter half of the twentieth century did not follow this trend. Instead, reforms usually traced “a path to government” — either through the shift of powers from local to metropolitan authorities, or from general purpose to task-specific jurisdictions. “Network governance,” Koch concludes, “seems to be a step within the process of metropolitan governance reform rather than the final result of it.” Read the article.
“The sovereign debt crisis in Greece has highlighted deep-rooted problems of the reform capacity of the domestic polity,”Kevin Featherstone and Dimitris Papadimitriou write in the current issue of Governance.
Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece
“To what extent might these failures be attributable to the very inner workings of the Greek government at the center?” Featherstone and Papadimitriou conclude that the power of Greek prime ministers has been overstated and that reality of Greek governance is a “solitary center” within a “segmented government.”
The center lacks “nodality, organizational capacity, and resources. The implications for the ability to steer policy, to monitor and control activities across ministries, and to understand impacts are clear.” Read the article.
Despite the far-reaching liberalization of the French banking system over the last quarter-century, French banks suffered far less in the financial crisis than banks in the United Kingdom and Germany. In the current issue of Governance, David Howarth asks why. French policymakers were not diehard enthusiasts of liberalization, and continued to emphasize interventions that produced a highly consolidated and closed banking system. An “unintended consequence of state action,” Howarth argues, “was that French banks downplayed securitization and the purchase of securitized prodctus, thus limiting the impact of a crisis connected in large part to financial innovation.” Read the article.
Paolo De Renzio reviews Sophal Ear‘s Aid Dependence in Cambodia. “The book provides a trenchant critique of the actions of both donors and government in Cambodia over the past two decades,” De Renzio says. Read the review.
And Rogerio F. Pinto reviews Governance of Public Sector Organizations, edited by Per Laegreid and Koen Verhoest: “A well-organized and long-overdue study that builds an empirical record of the aftermath of the new public management, or NPM.” Read the review.