The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

State capacity first, then democracy

It is widely agreed that the states that are most capable of promoting development are “constrained Leviathans.”  But there is debate about sequencing: does it matter whether states acquire state capacity before or after democratization?  In a new article forGovernanceMichelle D’Arcy and Marina Nistotskaya argue that “democratizing after the state has acquired high levels of state capacity leads to a more efficient social order.”  They use a novel indicator of historical state capacity — cadastral records — in their analysis.  States that developed extensive capacities before democratization appear to be less corrupt and better at providing essential public goods today. Read the article.

Written by Governance

December 15, 2016 at 11:46 am

Posted in New articles

Why extravagance in Chinese government persists

“No government in the world has ever conducted so many political campaigns against official extravagance as the Chinese government,” Ting Gong and Hanyu Xiao write in a new article for Governance.  But the problem of lavish spending on dining and drinking, lodging and transport by local government officials persists.  To understand why, the authors conducted 65 in-depth interviews with officials in major Chinese cities.  Their study reveals the “intricate weave of interinstitutional and interpersonal” pressures that shape the behavior of local officials.  The findings help to explain the roots of persistent corruption “in societies where corruption is not only a fact of life but a way of living.”  Read the article.

Written by Governance

December 12, 2016 at 11:45 am

Posted in New articles

Thirtieth anniversary essays

To mark our upcoming thirtieth anniversary, Governance has published eight essays that examine the theory and practice of governance over the last thirty years:

Susan Rose-Ackerman.  What Does Governance Mean?  “‘Governance’ is an ambiguous term that often substitutes for something else. It is often invoked to signal that the political issues at the core of government are off the table.”   Read the article.

Merilee GrindleGood Governance, R.I.P.: A Critique and an Alternative.  “As a concept, good governance more often obscures than enlightens.  The concept has encouraged muddy thinking about the role of governance in the development process.”  Read the article.

Geert Bouckaert. Taking Stock of “Governance”: A Predominantly European Perspective. “Ideally, governance research is rigorous and relevant. In reality, it is sometimes not so rigorous, and also not so relevant.” Read the article.

Guy Peters and Jon Pierre. Two Roads to Nowhere: Appraising 30 Years of Public Administration Research. “Public administration needs to return to thinking about the ‘big picture’ rather than the fragments that dominate much of the contemporary work in the discipline.” Read the article.

Frank Baumgartner. Creating an Infrastructure for Comparative Policy Analysis. “The other types of barriers, those coming from mere national or literature-based tradition, however, have no particular redeeming value. As we develop a literature ever more deeply integrated across different traditions, we will drop these artificial distinctions. And that will leave us with our true theoretical differences.” Read the article.

Bert Rockman.  The Melting Down of Government: A Multi-Decade Perspective.  “Government can only be part of the solution if it is adequately resourced and finds the will to be part of the solution. Under current circumstances, the joint probability of meeting those conditions is close to zero.” Read the article.

Rahul Mukherji.  Governance Reform in a Weak State: Thirty Years of Indian Experience. “India is home to a weak state in an eco-system powerfully shaped by social forces. The state can neither make a Dengist nor a Lee Kuan Yew type move to swiftly turn the page toward a new policy paradigm.” Read the article.

Yijia Jing. The Transformation of Chinese Governance: Pragmatism and Incremental Adaption. “Chinese governance has been transformed through a combination of pragmatic thinking and incremental adaptation of institutions.” Read the article.

Written by Governance

December 11, 2016 at 11:33 am

Posted in 30th anniversary

What price for a US ambassadorship?

How do financial contributions to political campaigns of US presidents influence the awarding of diplomatic posts to political appointees?  In a new article  for GovernanceJohannes Fedderke and Dennis Jett  examine 764 posting decisions made under two presidents between 2000 and 2013.  They show how ambassadorships are awarded in return for campaign contributions, and produce a price list for a range of diplomatic posts.  The price for the ambassadorship to the UK?  Based on one model, about $2.3 million in personal contributions.  But for some postings — like the small Nordic countries — “donors would have to be paid to go.” Read the article.

Written by Governance

December 5, 2016 at 11:43 am

Posted in New articles

Make Denmark Great Again?

capBy Daniel Béland and Klaus Petersen.  The victory of Donald Trump at the recent presidential election surprised many observers both at home and aboard. Although it is tempting to see the Trump phenomenon as a uniquely American mix of nationalism and populism, it is clear that his discourse is very much in sync with the right-wing, anti-immigration populism that has become so influential across Europe. This means that, paradoxically, populist nationalism is a transnational reality that is spreading across national borders. Taking this into account is helpful to both understand better the phenome of national populism. In the United States, it is common to associate Trumpism with the recent Brexit vote in the United Kingdom or the enduring popularity of Marine Le Pen and her Front National in France.

Yet the Trump phenomenon has also a lot in common with the rise of anti-immigration populism in Denmark, a small, social-democratic country that apparently has relatively little in common with the United States. Created in 1997, the Danish People’s Party has become one of the most successful populist parties in Europe.  Turning to its rhetoric and policy prescriptions can help us grasp what is both unique and surprisingly common about Trumpism. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Governance

December 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Opinion

Book reviews: Hive minds, US foreign policy, Indian cities

In the current issue of Governance, Fred Thompson reviewsHive Mind by Garett Jones.  “Jones sets out to explain why higher cognitive ability scores are so much more important for collectivities than for individuals.”  It might be the year’s most important economics book, says Thompson.  Read the review.
Oliver Stuenkel reviews Sailing the Water’s Edge: The Domestic Politics of American Foreign Policy by Helen Milnerand Dustin Tingley.  The book shows how “the president’s ability to obtain his desired foreign policy depends on negotiations with Congress, as well as public opinion and interest group support.  This matters far more than mainstream IR literature recognizes.”  This is an important contribution to the debate about US foreign policy, Stuenkel says.  Read the review.
And Tanu Kumar reviews Contesting the Indian City, edited by Gavin Shatkin.  Each chapter “is carefully researched and paints a vivid picture of life and politics in an Indian city.”  But the broader theoretical contributions “remain unclear” Read the review.

Written by Governance

November 27, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Posted in book reviews

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.

Written by Governance

November 24, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Current issue