The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Archive for the ‘Current issue’ Category

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

How relying on elites causes peacebuilding failures

The international community invests enormous resources in peacebuilding but sees modest results.  “It is the underlying theory of peacebuilding that is at fault,” Naazneen Barma writes in a commentary in the current issue of Governance.   The usual process of “institutional engineering” to promote statebuildingand democratization “becomes captured by elites, who co-opt interventions to achieve their own political objectives.”  Barma urges “A more clear-eyed and experimental approach to peacebuilding,” that recognizes elite priorities and finds new ways of broadening political space.  Read the commentary.

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February 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Current issue

Canada dares to change, but cautiously

In the current issue of Governance, Evert Lindquist and Chris Eichbaum argue that studies of Westminster systems need to expand their view beyond the relationship between politicians and public servants.  The Westminster model also includes “tacit bargains” between ministers and caucuses, and between governments and the general public.  Canada did not undertake reforms as radical as other Westminster systems.  But the Harper government did upset the status quo, often provoking strong resistance.  Lindquist and Eichbaum contrast Canadiandevelopments with other systems, and consider how the new Trudeau government may change course.  Read the article. The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.

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November 24, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Current issue

10 reasons policymakers don’t use data effectively

We are in the midst of a data revolution, Donald Kettl says in a research note in the current issue of Governance.  But “we are generating data faster than we are devising strategies for hearing what it tells us and helping policymakers act on it.”  Kettl outlines ten reasons why decision makers don’t make best use of the new bounty of data.  By grappling with these ten problems, academics can “improve the odds that careful analysis, rather than the noisy background of ordinary knowledge, shapes policy.”  Read the research note.

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November 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Current issue

How the GFC changed ideas about ministerial control

Before Brexit there was the global financial crisis.  In the current issue of Governance, Katherine Dommett, Muiris MacCarthaigh, and Niamh Hardiman examine how the GFC changed ideas about the organization of bureaucracy in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  The conventional Westminster model stressed centralization and ministerial control.  The conventional model was weakened because of NPM-style reforms.  But the authors find that the GFC caused another swing of the pendulum.  Austerity drives resulted in “efforts to reassert central government oversight.”  But the authors find that the end result was not simply a restoration of pre-NPM practices.  Rather, it was a more nuanced process of “negotiated governance.”  Read the article. The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.

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November 17, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Current issue