Most studies of policy feedback focus on the ways that programs can endure and expand over time. In the current issue ofGovernance, Alan Jacobs and Kent Weaver explore feedback mechanisms that gradually undermine the foundation for existing policies. They outline three of these “self-undermining” mechanisms and explain the conditions under which each mechanism is likely to operate. “The analysis,” the authors explain, “expands political scientists’ theoretical toolkit for explaining policy development over time.” Read the article.
Alasdair Roberts contributes to our blog’s conversation on public management and the state: “Even the most abstract works of political theory are never above the battle,” the historian Quentin Skinner has observed, “They are part of the battle itself” (Skinner 2008, xvi). The same can be said about modes of inquiry such as Public Management Research (PMR). PMR ought to be understood as the product of a particular phase in the development of some advanced western states. But this fact is rarely acknowledged. Read the rest of this entry »
Jack A. Seddon replies to our conversation on the Coen/Pegram commentary on global governance research: With three simple observations, I would like to concur with the call for a third generation of global governance research. I would further agree with Professors Coen and Pegram that global governance is failing, though it is probably too much—and a wholly ungenerous reading of the understandably polemical call to arms published in Governance—to assert that it is failing equally everywhere. My only comment is that the ubiquitous backsliding and inadequacy that characterises much of what constitutes global governance is probably only a surprise to the second generation of global governance scholarship. This, if correct, suggests three relatively concrete things about the next generation of research. Global governance analysis needs to be less functionalist and conceptual, more attuned to power and political conflict, and better grounded in its empirical claims. Read the rest of this entry »
Asmus Leth Olsen contributes to our discussion on public management research and the state: Doing (public administration) research is about balancing trade-offs. On one hand, we have a potential unlimited universe of big unanswered questions. On the other hand, we are faced with constraints in terms of data, methods, and theory. Great research arises when we maximize the importance of the question while minimizing the constraints on our ability to answer it. Read the rest of this entry »
Robert F. Durant responds to Don Kettl’s commentary on the neglect of big questions in public administration: As usual, Don Kettl makes several excellent points in his commentary about the so-called “big questions” in public administration and public management. As one of those who has written about and lectured on the negative impacts of general trends in the field on junior (and senior) scholars (1), I would add a friendly amendment to his point regarding the rewards to be gained by addressing big questions.
To address the problem requires more than accurately pointing out that Simon or others of his era focused on big questions and garnered big professional rewards from doing so. Scholars—new and seasoned—face a very different set of incentive structures as professionals today than did those in Simon’s day, or even two decades ago. Read the rest of this entry »