News from Governance June 20, 2013 - An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions
Co-Editors Alasdair S. Roberts and Robert H. Cox Book Review Editor Clay Wescott
Why South African decentralization has failed
"Decentralization was introduced to the South African constitution for all the right reasons," Thomas Koelble and Andrew Siddle write in their commentary in the July issue of Governance. But "decentralization has not fulfilled its promise. Municipal governance in South Africa is in a state of paralysis, service delivery failure, and dysfunction."
What went wrong? The major culprit, Koelbe and Siddle argue, is a failure of institutional design. "The system is highly complex and based on a set of underlying assumptions that are simply not applicable to the South African case." FREE access to the commentary.
Why anticorruption reforms fail
In the current issue of Governance, Anna Perrson, Bo Rothstein and Jan Teorell ask: Why does corruption in countries that are plagued with systemic corruption persist, despite a large number of efforts to fight it? The problem, they suggest, is a "theoretical mischaracterization of the problem of systemic corruption." Working from research completed in Kenya and Uganda, the authors argue that systemic corruption "closely resembles a collective action problem" that requires remedies "radically different" than those usually proposed. "The important thing," they suggest, "will be to change actors' beliefs about what all other actors are likely to do, so that most actors expect most other actors to play fairly." Read the article.
Promoting labor standards and environmental protection in developing countries
What is the most effective way to promote better labor and environmental protection standards in developing countries? Mathias Koenig-Archibugi and Kate Macdonald examine one tool -- transnational non-state governance arrangements, or NGAs. Not all NGAs are alike, and not all NGA interventions are appreciated by their intended beneficiaries. Koenig-Archibugi and Macdonald attribute this variation in effectiveness to differences in NGA accountability structures. NGAs that don't have direct accountability to those most affected by their decisions seem less likely to behave in ways that "live up to the hopes and expectations of intended beneficiaries." Read the article.
Book reviews: Reform in developing countries, and a post-mortem on NPM
Sophal Ear In the current issue of Governance, Larry Schroeder reviews The Limits of Institutional Reform by Matt Andrews. "As someone who has observed less than fully successful attempts to reform institutions in developing countries," Schroeder says, "I find Andrews's list of underlying causes of failures to be both compelling and on target." Read the review.
Paolo De Renzio reviews Sophal Ear's Aid Dependence in Cambodia. "The book provides a trenchant critique of the actions of both donors and government in Cambodia over the past two decades," De Renzio says. Read the review.
And Rogerio F. Pinto reviews Governance of Public Sector Organizations, edited by Per Laegreid and Koen Verhoest: "A well-organized and long-overdue study that builds an empirical record of the aftermath of the new public management, or NPM." Read the review.
Advice to prospective contributors
Governance co-editor Alasdair Roberts has prepared a note for prospective contributors to the journal. The note was prepared for a editors' panel discussion at the research conference of the Public Management Research Association in Madison, WI on June 20, 2013.