News from Governance May 1, 2013 - An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions
Co-Editors Alasdair S. Roberts and Robert H. Cox Book Review Editor Clay Wescott
Policy paradigms, twenty years later
2013 marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Peter Hall's classic article "Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State." To mark the anniversary, the current issue of Governance features a set of articles that examine how paradigms shape policy making. The articles were prepared for a symposium held at Suffolk University in Boston in December 2011.
In their introduction to the special issue, Robert H. Cox of the University of South Carolina and Daniel Béland of the University of Saskatchewan explain the importance of Hall's 1993 article and provide an overview of the contributions to this special issue.
"The study of policy paradigms," they conclude, "offers a fundamental challenge to explanations of politics that seek motivations in rational calculations or the material interests of decision makers." Read the introduction.
Economic crisis and the brief revival of Keynesianism
In the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, says Mark Blyth of Brown University, "we were all Keynesians for about twelve months." But the Keynesian revival was shortlived. Why was this? Blyth surveys the factors that played against a paradigm shift, including the thorough-going penetration of orthodox opinion; disciplinary disincentives to craft alternative ideas; and the fact that there are now "so many distributed but mutually supportive authorities" invested in the status quo. "In short," says Blyth, "it is politics, not economics, and it is authority, not facts, that matter for both paradigm maintenance and change." Read the article.
The global rise and fall of pension privatization
From 1981 to 2004, more than thirty countries modified their government-run pension systems to include individual, private savings accounts. But pension privatization stopped abruptly in 2005. What happened? In the current issue of Governance, Mitchell Orenstein of Northeastern University argues that ideational as well as fiscal factors caused a temporary halt to the privatization trend. "The tables turned in 2005," Orenstein says, "with the rise of anti-privatization critiques within the World Bank and the high-profile rejection of pension privatization in the United States." Read the article.
How the politics of ideas shaped Dutch disability reform
In 2002, ten percent of the Dutch labor force was enrolled in the country's disability insurance scheme. In the current issue of Governance, Paulette Kurzer of the University of Arizona examines how the politics of ideas shaped the trajectory of disability reform. "Ideas played a strategic role," Kurzer says. Center-left politicians seized on the concept of labor market activation as a device for thwarting neoliberal restructuring of the disability program. The concept of activation also resonated with voters -- but for very different reasons. Voters were drawn to the idea as a way of barring ethnic minorities from taking advantage of the program. Read the article.
What is governance? Fukuyama responds
In March, Governance published a commentary by Francis Fukuyama, "What is governance?" Over the last eight weeks, the Governance blog has posted several responses to this commentary. In his own post to the blog, Fukuyama replies:
"The reaction has been very helpful to my own thinking, and hopefully will be the basis for more discussions to come. The vast majority of the comments centered around the criticism that I had chosen too narrow a concept of governance . . . " Read more.