Elite politicians live in an “information maelstrom,” Stefaan Walgrave and Yves Dejaeghere observe in a new article for Governance. How do they decide select the information they pay attention to? Walgrave and Dejaeghere draw on interviews with top Belgian politicians, including all party leaders. They describe three general strategies that are used by politicians to manage overload: organizational procedures designed to shield them against raw information; personal heuristics to sort out what really matters; and an attitude of self-confidence that “at least makes them feel in charge of the incoming signals.” Read the article.
Advances in information technology have produced a “media cyclone” — a “noisy, fragmented, pressure-filled media landscape.” In the current issue of Governance, Alex Marland, J.P. Lewis and Tom Flanagan use recent Canadian history to explain how politicians respond. Politicians turn to branding: “a corporate philosophy that seeks to unite every employee activity and communications touchpoint toward a common purpose.” Branding requires tight centralization of control over communications. It also blurs the lines between party government and public service. Despite the dangers, branding “can be expected to last, regardless of which party or leader is in control.” Read the article.