The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

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

Call for nominations: 2017 Levine Book Prize

The Levine Book Prize Committee is seeking nominations for the 2017 Levine Prize.  More details here.  The committee is composed of Professor Tobias Bach (University of Oslo), Professor Caspar van den Berg (Leiden University), and Professor Ting Gong (City University of Hong Kong).   Information about previous winners is available here.

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November 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Levine Book Prize

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

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.

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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.

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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