The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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February 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Current issue

UK agency autonomy: Not what it seems

Britain’s “Next Steps” program was supposed to redefine the bargain between ministers and senior public service executives, granting more autonomy in exchange for more direct accountability.  But it hasn’t always worked out that way, Thomas Elston explains.  We need to distinguish explicit and tacit aspects of the “public service bargain,” and recognize that these two aspects move “in and out of alignment with each other.”  In the UK justice sector, oversight of agencies is “far more hierarchical and contract based.”  But the appearance of independence allows politicians to make more intricate calculations about credit-claiming or blame-avoiding for agency activities.  Read the article.

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February 18, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Current issue

Why sub-Saharan voters support corrupt politicians

Why do voters support corrupt politicians?  In the current issue of GovernanceEric Chang and Nicholas Kerr examine voter attitudes and behavior in eighteen sub-Saharan African countries.  They distinguish between outsiders and two kinds of insiders: those who belong to patronage networks, and those who share partisan or ethnic affilations with incumbents.  “Patronage insiders” recognize higher levels of corruption but tolerate it, while “identity insiders” are simply less aware of political corruption.  Read the article.

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February 10, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Posted in Current issue