For more than a century, the Westminster system was one of the most influential models of public administration in the world. Countries in the “Westminster world” claimed the benefits of a strong executive and an impartial, professional bureaucracy. The October issue of Governance examines the health of the Westminster model today. In their introduction to the special issue, Dennis Grube and Cosmo Howard pose the big question: Is the model “under threat, dying, or already dead?” Read the introduction to the special issue.
In the current issue of Governance, Frank Vogl reviews Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World by Leif Wenar. Vogl says that the book “builds a compelling case for a trade boycott on oil, gas, gold, and other mineral exports from some 30 nations run by corrupt regimes.” Read the review.
And Lina Vyas reviews Governing Civil Service Pay in China byAlfred M. Wu. Wu “offers an incisive examination of how the government has attempted to shape a contemporary civil service system that in turn would improve state capacity and government legitimacy,” Vyas says. Read the review.
September 28 is International Right to Know Day. Mark the day by watching this debate between Charles Lewis and Bruce Cain on the question, “Is American government too open?” The video is accompanied by commentaries from Governance arguing both sides of the question. It is well suited for classroom use.
In the current issue of Governance, Daniel Béland andMichael Howlett explore the process by which policy goals are matched with policy solutions. An important type of actor in this process is the “instrument constituency” — a group that is dedicated to the promotion of a particular kind of solution, regardless of problem context. Béland and Howlett use cross-sectoral and cross-national case studies to demonstrate the usefulness of this new concept in explaining the dynamics of the policy process. Read the article.
Present-day state capacities can be shaped profoundly by historical processes of state formation. In the current issue ofGovernance, Roberto Stefan Foa and Anna Nemirovskaya examine how the distinctive histories of “frontier states” — like the United States, Canada, Russia and Brazil — influence state capacities today. “Frontier zones have ongoing lower levels of public order and public goods provision,” the authors find. They explain why settlers resisted attempts to impose governance over frontier regions, opting instead for lower fiscal capacity and more limited provision of public goods. Read the article.
Several SOG members contribute to a new book, Public Administration Reforms in Europe: The View From the Top, just published by Edward Elgar. Based on a survey of more than 6700 top civil servants in 17 European countries, this book explores the impacts of New Public Management (NPM)-style reforms in Europe. More about the book. Steven Van de Walle discusses the book in a short comment here.
In the current issue of Governance, Carolyn Warner reviews The Quest for Good Governance by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi. “It has yet to occur to the international community that corrupt actors rarely, if ever, reform themselves out of business,” Warner says. “Mungiu-Pippidi’s work is a significant contribution to our understanding of the subject, and one to which policymakers and international donors should pay attention.” Read the review.
And Gaia von Hatzfeldt reviews Democracy and Transparency in the Indian State by Sharma Prashant. India’s 2005 Right to Information Act “is lauded for being both a producer and a product of an empowered and active citizenry,” von Hatzfeldt says. “Sharma Prashant provocatively and astutely questions this assumed correlation between the RTI and democratic processes.” Read the review.