Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Levine Book Prize


Charles H. Levine was an outstanding scholar in the fields of public policy and administration. He played a major role in the creation and early life of both the journal Governance and its sponsor, the Structure and Organization of Government Research Committee of the International Political Science Association (SOG). After his untimely death in 1988, the Editorial Board of Governance and the Executive Committee of SOG established an annual book prize in his memory.

The book selected should meet the following criteria:
1. It was published in 2019.
2. It makes a contribution of considerable theoretical or practical significance in the field of public policy and administration.
2. It takes an explicitly comparative perspective or produces findings the implications of which are highly significant for comparative research.
3. It is written in an accessible style and form so that it is of value both to scholars and practitioners.

The Levine Prize will be awarded to the book published in 2019 that best meets these criteria. Nominations should be made by 15 March 2020 and sent to the committee. Please send a copy of the book to all three members of the committee. The winner will be announced in the October 2020 issue of Governance, and in the SOG Newsletter.

Professor Robert Henry Cox
Chair of the Committee
Walker Institute for International and Area Studies
251 Gambrell Hall
817 Henderson Street
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
tel: +1 803. 777.4558

Professor Jale Tosun
Institute of Political Science
Heidelberg University
Bergheimer Str. 58,
D-69115 HeidelbergGERMANY
tel: +49 06221 – 54 3726

Professor Carl Dahlström
Department of Political Science
University of GothenburgBox 711
405 30 Göteborg
tel: +46 31 786 5995

Note: Please ensure that books being nominated will reach all members of the committee by 15 March 2020.

Written by Governance

October 10, 2019 at 7:51 am

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Revisiting the U.S. Budget and Accounting Act of 1921

Now on Early View: The passage of the 1921 U.S. Budget and Accounting Act was a transformative moment for the US state. It turned the U.S. federal budgeting process from a decentralized system into a centralized one. The existing literature discusses this shift as a turning point in the relations between governmental branches, vesting power in the executive branch at the expense of Congress. But until now we know little about whether or not this law actually achieved what it promised: to increase efficiency and stability of the budgetary process. George A. Krause and Roger Qiyuan Jin’s new paper fill this gap in the literature. Applying semiparametric heterogeneous treatment estimation techniques, they find evidence that centralization of the budgetary process enhanced budget stability and coherence for executive departments. What they don’t find is an equivalent positive impact on independent agencies. Contributing to the greater scholarship on administrative reform, they argue that this divergence is a function of the ‘organizational design compatibility’ between agency and procedural structures. That means that a more centralized budgetary system can only be expected to lead to greater coherence and stability when it is matched with a centralized agency structure. Institutional asymmetries—as is the case with the independent agencies—will in contrast to lead to inefficiencies.

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August 7, 2019 at 10:35 am

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Local adoption of social policy reform in China

Now on Early View: Two forces drive social policy-making at local level in authoritarian contexts: Top-down pressure from the regime and bottom-up motivations stemming from local conditions. While both have been acknowledged as important drivers, little research has examined the interaction between the two and it remains unclear when one level of influence drives local policy adoption or implementation more than the other. Xian Huang and Sung Eun Kim overcome this gap with their quantitative study of two health insurance integration policies at the local level in China. One policy aims to foster urban-rural integration which pertains more to income redistribution and is thus more likely to incur more class or distributive conflicts while the other policy works towards within-program integration which is more about pooling potential risks among localities. Understanding these political dynamics allows the authors to tease out the most significant drivers of local policy adoption. The study of health insurance policies is particularly salient in this case, given the role local political actors play in social welfare provision. What the authors find is that the driving forces behind each case are quite different. Top-down pressure is relevant in both cases, however it is more salient in cases that may cause class or distributive conflicts. And even though local leaders in authoritarian contexts are not formally accountable to their constituents, bottom-up pressures can significantly shape the adoption of social policies as seen within-program integration policies. With this the authors make important contributions to the study of social policy reform at the local level and government responsiveness in authoritarian countries, they shed light on the politics of such reforms in nondemocratic least developed countries and offer new insights into the analysis of interregional policy implementation differences in the context of decentralization.

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July 23, 2019 at 2:59 pm

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Nongovernmental organizations and environmental policies in China

Now on Early View: We know a lot about the influence of NGOs in democracies. But their advocacy in authoritarian contexts is poorly understood. This is especially problematic because NGOs have become increasingly active in authoritarian countries. To shine light on this under-researched area, Dongshu Liu develops a typology of the channels of influence of environmental NGOs in China. Based on interviews with NGOs and scholars, he bases the typology on two central variables: the consistency and the formality of NGO advocacy channels. For example, inconsistent and informal channels of influence are, for example, personal connections between the NGOs and state officials. NGOs that hold such a ‘weak’ link to political influence overwhelmingly focus on ad hoc policy change on a flexible, case-by-case basis. On the other hand, NGOs with formal and consistent channels of influence take part in official policy consultation processes. These NGOs are more likely to focus on broader and persistent pressure on ongoing legislation processes. Liu ends his analysis with an assessment about how new NGO policies by the Xi administration can be judged according to the way they re-distributed resources and altered political channels of influence.

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July 23, 2019 at 2:57 pm

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Reforming post-Communist Bureaucracies: The effect of transitional justice

Now on Early View: How can one explain the great variation in the timing of civil service reform in post-communist countries after 1989? Countries like Poland were quick to reform its civil service, while countries like Slovakia took their time. Existing research points to the importance of past legacies and historical inertia. But these explanations fail to fully account for the observed variation. Using quantitative data from 11 post-communist countries in Eastern Europe as well as the case study of the Czech Republic, Tatiana Kostadinova and Milena Neshkova put forth an alternative explanation. They show that the timing of civil service reform was strongly influenced by other transitional justice policies, most importantly, lustration. If and when former regime functionaries in the civil service sector were targeted changed the preferences of actors for civil service reform—sometimes in ironic and unanticipated ways. For example, when lustration took place, but the communist party is strong, it can incentivize the guard of the old regime to push for civil service reform. Alternatively, leaving the supporters of the old regime in office can advance the process of creating a more professional and independent bureaucracy. Generally, the authors find that democratic, competitive political environments tend to further a bureaucracy that is “less politically dependent, less controllable, and more transparent.” All in all, Kostadinova and Neshkova’s research reveals an important and thought-provoking trade off between lustration and civil service reform and the consequential impact of their effects and sequence.

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July 23, 2019 at 2:52 pm

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Fiorino wins 2019 Levine Prize

Each year, the International Political Science Association’s Research Committee on the Structure of Governance sponsors the Levine Prize. It is named in honor of Charles H. Levine, who was a distinguished member of the Research Committee and served on the editorial board of its official journal, Governance. The prize is awarded on the recommendation of a distinguished committee for the best book on comparative administration or public policy published in the previous year. This year’s committee was composed of Professors Linda White (University of Toronto, Canada), Kutsal Yesilkagit (Leiden University, The Netherlands) and Robert Cox (University of South Carolina, United States).

The Award Committee has selected “A Good Life on a Finite Earth: The Political goodlifeEconomy of Green Growth,” by Daniel J. Fiorino (American University, United States) as the 2019 recipient of the Levine Award. The book develops a coherent argument for how green growth is possible, and why it is a necessary priority for governments in the 21st Century. According to Fiorino, the concept of green growth outlines a developmental goal that balances ecological and social as well as economic benefits. It is an orientation to economic development that is advocated by a wide array of international agencies and that has inspired a great deal of innovative policies in countries around the world.

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July 18, 2019 at 12:24 pm

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July 2019 Issue Now Available

The July 2019 issue is now available!

First page image

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July 15, 2019 at 9:33 am

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How active are non-state actors in global governance?

“Should I stay or should I go? Explaining variation in nonstate actor advocacy over time in global governance

Marcel Hanegraaf, Jorik Vergauwen & Jan Beyers

Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has witnessed a proliferation of non-state actors (NSAs) participating in global governance. In 2016 there were more than 68,000 registered transnational NSAs. But despite their sheer growth, few of them actually manage to have a sustained global impact. Marcel Hanegraaf, Jorik Vergauwen and Jan Beyers adopt a novel approach to existing research by producing a mapping that captures the differences between core and peripheral NSAs based on their level of activity over time. To do so, they conducted a quantitative analysis of all NSAs that were active at the Conferences of the Parties of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conventions (COP and UNFCCC) between 1997 and 2011. What they show is that much of the advocacy in this field is of an incidental nature and that many NSAs only attended the conference once. They further find that the higher the number of participating NSAs, the lower the number of repeat players participating at conferences while the number of ‘policy tourists’ increases. Hanegraf, Vergauwen and Beyers thus underscore the need to push beyond aggregate numbers by demonstrating that transnational NSA communities consist of a small core of active policy participants that frequently participate in relevant fora and a larger number of peripheral NSAs who lack repeat appearances.

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July 15, 2019 at 9:23 am

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Book reviews: Building state capability, and the politics of evidence

In the current issue of Governance, Richard Allen reviews Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action by Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock. The authors propose an approach to governance reform in developing countries andrews coverthat emphasizes locally customized “best fit” solutions, combined with experimentation and a broad‐based dialogue among the development partners and other actors in the reform process. Read the review. Caroline Heider reviews The Politics of Evidence: From Evidence‐Based Policy to the Good Governance of Evidence by Justin Parkhurst. In this “post‐truth era,” the author demonstrates systems that can be built to ensure policies are better informed by evidence, while also pointing out why evidence cannot and should not be the sole driver in policymaking. Read the review.

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March 26, 2018 at 10:27 am

Miller and Whitford win Levine Prize

Each year, the International Political Science Association’s Research Committee on the Structure of Governance sponsors the Levine Prize. It is named in honour of Charles H. Levine, who was a distinguished member of the Research Committee and served on the editorial board of its official journal, Governance. The prize is awarded on the recommendation of a distinguished committee. This year’s committee was composed of Professors Tobias Bach (University of Oslo), Caspar van den Berg (Leiden University), and Ting Gong (City University of Hong Kong).

9781107008755The Award Committee has selected Above Politics: Bureaucratic Discretion and Credible Commitment by Gary J. Miller and Andrew B. Whitford as the 2017 recipient of the Levine Award. This interesting book turns much of the conventional wisdom about opportunistic and self-interested bureaucrats as the main problem of democratic governance upside down. Through a series of insightful vignettes and case studies, the authors powerfully argue that the moral hazard faced by politicians is a more serious problem than the proverbial runaway bureaucracy. They emphasize the benefits of a professionalized bureaucracy as a key element of checks and balances in the US system of separated powers and highlight the problematic effects of politicization on policy effectiveness. Written in an accessible style, the book will be useful as a reading for courses in different fields. Read the rest of this entry »

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July 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

Posted in Levine Book Prize