The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

In Westminster systems, public servants hold the line

In Westminster systems, senior public servants have traditionally avoided overtly political roles.  Some critics have alleged that recent public sector reforms have undermined that tradition of impartiality.  In the current issue of Governance,Dennis Grube and Cosmo Howard conclude that fears about the collapse of traditional norms are overstated.  Drawing on cases from Canada and Australia, Grube and Howard conclude that “There remains a strong ethical awareness among senior public servants about how far they can legitimately allow themselves  to be pushed under a Westminster system.”  Read the article. The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.

Written by Governance

November 10, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Current issue

The Westminster ideal: A useful myth

Many aspects of the Westminster model of governance are “convenient myths,”Patrick Weller and Catherine Haddon argue in the current issue ofGovernance. No country has ever had a civil service that complied fully with the principles now associated with the Westminster model.  Many of those principles are actually highly ambiguous.  And practice within so-called “Westminster systems” has varied widely across time and geography.  Still, the model serves a useful purpose in guiding an ongoing debate about the role the civil service. “Its precepts are broad enough to guide, but never so precise that they prescribe.”  Read the article.  The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster system.

Written by Governance

November 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Current issue

How NPM made Westminster blunder-prone

The Westminster model of governance created a “symbiotic partnership” between the ministers responsible for government departments and the career civil servants who ran them, David Richards and Martin J. Smith argue in the current issue ofGovernance.  But the advent of New Public Management changed that, introducing new pathologies into British government.  “The most crucial pathology,” they say, “is that the deliberative space afforded for critical engagement over public policy has been diminished.”  The result? A government that is more vulnerable to serious blunders. Read the article.  The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.

Written by Governance

October 31, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Current issue

Why voters sometimes prefer criminals as candidates

“In democracies around the world,” Milan Vaishnav writes in the current issue of Governance, “candidates who stand accused or convicted of criminal conduct routinely win elections.”  In his commentary, Vaishnav explains why.  He challenges the conventional wisdom that voters are just uninformed.  Looking at experience in India, Vaishnav suggests that under some circumstances, “politicians can use their criminality to signal their credibility when it comes to protecting the interest of voters in their constituencies.”  Free access to the commentary.

Written by Governance

October 24, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Posted in commentary

Book reviews: The politics of information, horizontal management

In the current issue of Governance, Jacob Hacker reviews The Politics of Information by Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones.  “It is a formidable achievement,” says Hacker.  “Baumgartner and Jones cast governance as a problem of information: getting it (or restricting it), ensuring that it is reliable (which sometimes means reliably consistent with one’s priors), and acting on it.”  Read the review.

 

And Jale Tosun reviews Pursing Horizontal Management by B. Guy Peters.  Peters “focuses on how governments deal with specialization and coordination,” Tosun says.  The book “moves away from structure-based approaches to public sector coordination and governance” by taking into account “the attitudes of participants in the coordination process.”  Read the review.

Written by Governance

October 17, 2016 at 8:34 am

Posted in book reviews

Commentary: Escaping the trap of systemic corruption

Why isn’t the “anti-corruption industry” more effective?  In a commentary for Governance, David Arellano-Gault says the problem is “the failure to fully acknowledge the organizational role played by corruption in many societies. When a society experiences systemic corruption, it has built a solid, effective social trap.”  He argues that the usual prescriptions of anti-corruption advocates are not enough to break “a socially and culturally sustained vicious circle.”  Free access to the commentary. David Arellano-Gault is a Professor of Public Administration at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City.

Written by Governance

October 7, 2016 at 8:32 am

Posted in commentary

CFP: Public management and institutional quality

The Structure and Organization of Government section of the International Political Science Association, together with the Quality of Government Institute at the University of Gothenburg,  invite you to submit a paper for a workshop on Public Management and Institutional Quality.  The workshop will be held on June 7-8, 2017.  More details about the call for papers here.

Written by Governance

September 30, 2016 at 9:39 am

Posted in Conferences, SOG news