Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category
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.
District magistrate at work in Uttar Pradesh, India. WikiMedia
Last year in Governance, Francis Fukuyama argued that there were “big and decisive drawbacks” to the use of output measures in assessing government quality. (Read Fukuyama’s commentary.) Two new research notes in Governance take issue with Fukuyama’s position.
“Measuring performance,” says Robert Rotberg of Harvard University, “can best be done by examining outputs (results), not inputs . . . Such a scheme makes epistemological and parsimonious sense. It is is tidy and transparent. And it works.” Read the research note.
Meanwhile Craig Boardman of Ohio State University says that the rejection of output- or outcome-based measures is premature. “A particular government’s quality can and should be assessed,” Boardman says, “not just in terms of its capacity and autonomy (as Fukuyama suggests), but additionally in terms of the outcomes its society values and expects.” Read the research note.
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.