Book reviews: Environmental policy, corruption, and the World Bank’s attempt to understand political economy
Peter Larmour of Australian National University reviews Different Paths to Curbing Corruption, edited by Jon S.T. Quah. This set of five country case studies “complements and extends current econometric approaches to understanding corruption and relates it to broader macrohistorical themes in development.” Read the review.
Thomas Carothers and Diane de Gramont of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace review Problem-Driven Political Economy Analysis: The World Bank’s Experience, edited by Verena Fritz, Brian Levy, and Rachel Ort. The book is a “far-reaching, informative examination” of the World Bank’s attempt to improve its analysis of the political feasibility of proposed programs. All of the case studies “bring up a central problem: clientelism.” And the book emphasizes the need for more attention to “politically responsive policy design.” Read the review.
Walter Eucken, a founder of ordoliberalism
The ideas of ordoliberalism, first developed in Germany in the mid-twentieth century, have had a marked revival since the Global Financial Crisis, write Mathias Siems and Gerhard Schnyder in the current issue of Governance. Commentators from both left and right say that more regulation on ordoliberal principles is needed. But there is confusion about what ordoliberalism really requires. Siems and Schnyder clarify the core ideas and show how ordoliberalism can “form the basis for a sounder conception of economic regulation” in the wake of the crisis. Read the article.
Some academic studies say that Islamists are effective at providing social services for women, while others contend that Islamic groups “support pro-male policies that disadvantage the well-being of women.” In the current issue of Governance, Lisa Blaydes examines the effects of Islamist rule in neighbourhoods of Greater Cairo. “Women subject to governance by the Islamic group enjoyed better outcomes in reproductive health” than in comparable neighborhoods ruled by strongmen, Blaydes concludes. Read the article.
The IPSA Research Committee on Structure and Organization of Government (SOG) held ten panels during the 23rd IPSA World Congress 2014 that took place in Montreal, Québec, Canada on 19-24 July. These panels entailed various themes such like Administrators at the Top (Recruitment Patterns, Career Paths, Role Perceptions and Politicization of Senior Bureaucrats); Organizing for Internal Security and Crisis Management; Analysing International Transfers from the Inside: Public Administration Reforms in Post-communist Europe; The Reciprocal Influence of Policies and Administrative Networks; The Moral and Ethical Implications of Accountability: Theory and Practice; The Politics of Selection at the Top of Ministerial Bureaucracies; Local Institutions and Participation in Urban Settings; The Study of the Structure of Government: A Field in Search of a New Agenda?; The Effects of Delegation on Bureaucratic Influence over Policy-making. See details about all panels here. Around sixty participants including chairs, paper givers and discussants, presented their on-going work and communications. The event took place in the Palais des Congrès of Montreal in the City Center and a SOG diner was organized on 22 July.
The 2014 Levine Book Prize has been awarded to Christopher Adolph of the University of Washington for his book Bankers, Bureaucrats, and Central Bank Politics (Cambridge University Press). The prize committee was composed of Professors Agnes Batory (Central European University; Chair), Luc Juillet (University of Ottawa) and Julia Fleischer (University of Amsterdam). The committee says that Adolph’s book “raises important questions about the assumed all-importance of central bank independence and provides a fascinating insight into the ways the professional background of key officials shapes monetary policy.” Read more.
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.