The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

How politicians survive the media cyclone

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.

Written by Governance

March 25, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Posted in Current issue

How politicians survive information overload

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.

Written by Governance

March 22, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Current issue

Democracy promotion: “Politically engaged best practice”

Critics of donor-funded democracy promotion projects complain that they are naive attempts to replicate the practices of developed countries.  David Guinn and Jeffrey Straussman say that the reality is more complicated.  They describe a more nuanced approach to democracy promotion, which they call “politically engaged best practice,” and show how it can be applied to the task of legislative strengthening in developing countries.  Politically engaged programming still recognizes that there are best practices, but allows room for development agencies and implementers to consider how practices should be adjusted to fit “social and cultural systems.”  Read the article.

Written by Governance

March 15, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The rise and fall of performance management in India

In 2014, the performance management model seemed to be well established in India’s central government.  Today, everything has changed.  “India has no formal system for government performance management,” Prajapati Trivedi writes in commentary for Governance, “and all performance reviews are done in the office of the Prime Minister in the old-fashioned way.”  Trivedi explains the “spectacular rise . . . and speedy demise” of performance management.  The story “offers valuable lessons for future reformers” in other democracies. Trivedi received ASPA’s International Public Administration Award at its March conference.  Free access to the commentary.

Written by Governance

March 13, 2017 at 8:24 am

Posted in commentary

Semi-autonomous agencies: Useful scapegoats

Reformers in many developed countries relied on the creation of semi-autonomous agencies as a strategy for improving citizen satisfaction with government.  Did agencification actually produce the expected result?  Sjors Overman draws on data from fifteen European countries and suggests that it can, although for unexpected reasons.  In the domain of tax services, “semi-autonomous authorities absorb some of the blame for bad performance for the government . . . The presence of an agency worked as a scapegoat for dissatisfied services users, and resulted in less dissatisfaction with the government.”  Read the article.

Written by Governance

March 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Current issue

Research note: Budget support suspensions as a sanctioning device

“Budget support” is a form of aid whereby a donor provides direct financial support to a recipient government’s budget.  It could also be used as a tool for punishing governments that fail to fight corruption, respect human rights, or meet other good governance norms.  But how often is this tool used for such purposes?   Nadia Molenaers, Anna Gagiano and Lodewijk Smets describe a new database that covers all budget support suspensions between 1999 and 2014.  A preliminary analysis shows that forty percent of suspensions fall in the “democracy and human rights” category.  The data set can be downloaded by researchers.  Read the research note.

Written by Governance

March 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Current issue

Brazil: Measuring capacity, explaining corruption

In a new article for GovernanceKatherine Bersch, Sérgio Praça, and Matthew Taylor respond to calls for better measures of state capacity and bureaucratic autonomy at the subnational level.  Their new measures are “objective and independent of outcome.”  And they allow exploration of the causes of corruption within Brazil.  “Low capacity and autonomy are associated with higher corruption,” they find.  Single-party dominance also increases corruption through its negative effects on agency capacity.  Read the article.

Written by Governance

February 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Current issue