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Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category

Book reviews: Do-it-yourself democracy, smarter states

 

In the current issue of GovernanceRobert Chaskin reviews Do-It-Yourself Democracy by Caroline W. Lee.  Lee’s analysis is “unsettling,” Chaskin says, showing how deliberative processes can be designed “in ways that legitimize cost cutting and retrenchment and that promote participant alignment with state or corporate requirements for austerity.  Read the review.  And Scott Fritzen reviews Smart Citizens, Smarter State by Beth Simone Noveck.  The book “makes an impassioned plea for ‘reinventing government’ in the twenty-first century.”  Fritzen says that Noveck’s analysis is “nuanced, grounded in historical analysis, practical experience in government, multiple disciplines and a close reading of democratic and institutional theory.”  Read the review.

Written by Governance

April 25, 2017 at 3:54 pm

What drives legitimacy in post-conflict societies?

Rebuilding institutional legitimacy is essential for stability in postconflict societies.  But what factors influence citizen perceptions of legitimacy?  Kylie Fisk and Adrian Cherney answer the question using data from a nationwide study of post-conflict governance in Nepal.  They find that the relationship between service delivery and legitimacy “is not as simple as previously assumed.”  Procedural justice is more strongly associated with perceptions of legitimacy than instrumental outcomes such as service delivery, distributive justice, and outcome favorability. Read the article.

Written by Governance

April 15, 2017 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Current issue

Explaining the ebb and flow of legislative power

The balance of power between executive and legislative branches in Latin American governments has varied significantly over time.  But this is not the result of changes in the formal division of powers between the two branches.  What explains the ebb and flow of legislative strength?  Sarah Shair-Rosenfield and Alissandra Stoyan argue that a key factor is “legislator professionalization,” which they define as a function of prior legislative and professional work experience.  Examining the track record of four Latin American countries, they find that legislaturesare more likely to curb executive power when legislators are strongly professionalized, controlling for constitutional provisions and several other factors.  Read the article.

Written by Governance

April 8, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Current issue

How US public service executives make decisions

Senior government executives often depend on groups of advisors to help them overcome the challenges of decisionmaking.  But this raises the risk of “groupthink.”  In a study of executives in the US federal government, Steven Kelman, Ronald Sanders, and Gayatri Pandit find that the dominant technique for avoiding technique is vigilant decisionmaking, which involves active solicitation of dissenting views and close scrutiny of alternatives.  But successful executives are also found to have a bias for action.  “What distinguishes outstanding executives,” the authors find, “is not vigiliance but decisiveness.”  Read the article.

Written by Governance

April 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Current issue

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.

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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

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