News from Governance February 18, 2015 - An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions
Co-Editors: Alasdair S. Roberts and Robert H. Cox. Book Review Editor: Clay Wescott.
A new approach to institutional change
In the current issue of Governance, Jane Gingrich examines a paradox. A large scholarly literature says that change is difficult in the public sector. But the public sector has in fact changed substantially over the last two decades. Better theory is needed to explain when and how institutional change happens. Gringrich identifies three different types of costs to change, and explains how different combinations of these costs can lead to different patterns of policy change. Gingrich uses British and American experience in healthcare and welfare reform to illustrate her argument. Free access to the article.
Corruption, impunity, and a death in Argentina
In a comment for the Governance blog, Aránzazu Guillán Montero discusses the suspicious death of Argentinian special prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January. Nisman died hours before a congressional inquiry into his criminal complaint that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had tried to obstruct the investigation into the 1994 bombing of Argentina's Jewish mutual aid society. "This case reminds us that, in spite of the relative political stability of the Kirchner period, important institutional challenges remain. Corruption may be the basis for stability, but at a high price." Read the blog comment.
Why governments adopt strong transparency laws
When are governments likely to adopt strong transparency laws? Greg Michener says that too much of the existing research has tried to answer that question by looking only at countries with single-party or small-coalition governments. In those cases, political leaders often have strong reasons for resisting openness. The dynamic is different when the number of parties controlling government rises. In broad multiparty coalitions, transparency laws can be used as tools for monitoring coalition partners. Michener uses Brazil's experience with freedom of information law to illustrate his argument. "The leaders of large coalitions," Michener concludes, "may find FOI particularly appealing because it avoids the high political costs of 'shadowing ministers' or traceable leaks. It delegates diffuse monitoring responsibilities to citizens." Free access to the article.
Privileged pluralism: How major interests keep power
In the current issue of Governance, Anne Skorkjaer Binderkrantz, Peter Munk Christiansen, and Helene Helboe Pedersen examine the dynamics of interest group activity in Denmark, based a unique large data set. They reject the simple notion that the availability of multiple arenas assures diversity in interest group representation. The evidence shows that "when it comes to the major players, cumulative effects are evident; that is the same groups dominate across all arenas." They call this a system of "privileged pluralism." Free access to the article.
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