Governance invites nominations for the 2014 Levine Book Prize. Nominations should be made by 31 March 2014. Please send a copy of the book to all three members of the committee. The winner will be announced in the October 2014 issue of Governance. Learn more about the Prize, and obtain addresses for the 2014 Prize Committee members.
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.
“One of the few positive consequences of the global financial crisis,” Randall Germain writes in the current issue of Governance, “has been a broad upsurge in interest in the broad problem of financial governance at the global level. Germain reviews Governing Global Finance by Anthony Elson. Elson successfully outlines the technical challenges of global financial governance, German says, but needs “to engage more fully with the political dynamics at work” in this area. Read the review.
Kai Chen reviews The Security Governance of Regional Organizations, edited by Emil Joseph Kirchner and Roberto Domínguez. The book provides a comparative study of ten regional security organizations and is a “valuable contribution to the study of security governance,” Chen concludes. Read the review.
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.