The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

Posts Tagged ‘Europe

Book reviews: China in Africa; Welfare systems in Latin America; management reform in Napoleonic countries

China in AfricaIn the current issue of Governance (January 2011), Brian Levy of the World Bank reviews The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa by Deborah Brautigam — a “superb book” about China’s distinctive approach to engagement with African governments.   Open access to the review.   Alex Segura-Ubriego‘s Political Economy of the Welfare State is “the first comprehensive and systematic effort to advance our knowledge of Latin American welfare systems,” according to Barbara Zarate of the University of Oxford.   Open access to the review.  And Riccardo Mussari of University of Siena reviews Public Management Reform and Modernization by Edoardo Ongaro.  Ongaro’s book “fills a significant gap” by assessing management reforms in the Napoleonic countries of of central and southern Europe.   Open access to the review.

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March 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Free download: The future of the European Union

What happens to the European Union after the crisis triggered by the threat of Greek default in early 2010?  In her commentary in the current issue of Governance (23.4, October 2010), Vivien Schmidt says the EU must develop stronger mechanisms for responding to the economic crises of member states, as well as more flexible rules on fiscal and monetary policy, and better policies to remedy economic inequalities.  “Reform demands real political will,” says Schmidt, “at a time when inward-looking politics is on the rise.”  Download the commentary for free.

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October 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

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Policy on global warming: In Europe, the challenge is getting the car started

In the current issue of Governance, Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Michelle Wolfe contrast American and European approaches to the regulation of CO2 emissions, which contribute to global warming.  Popular explanations of the differing American and European approaches to environmental regulation often cite cultural differences, such as the US’ preference for market-based solutions.  But Green-Pedersen and Wolfe say more attention should be paid to structural differences in political systems that determine how policy agendas are established.  In the US, a more open system results in quicker attention to new issues, but a lower probability that this attention will be institutionalized.  In Denmark, by contrast, environmental policy making can be described as “a car that is difficult to start, but once started runs at a high and constant pace.”  Read more: The Institutionalization of Environmental Attention in the United States and Denmark: Multiple- Versus Single-Venue Systems.

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November 5, 2009 at 10:10 am

Europeanization in education policy: Two views

The current issue of Governance (22.3) offers two perspectives on the complexities of Europeanization in the field of education policy.  Christine Trampusch contrasts the German and Austrian response to the Bologna Process, which included an effort to rationalize processes of vocational education and training.  German policymakers adopted a proactive reform policy, while in Austria, Europeanization was effected through “ongoing, quotidian change in domestic institutions, without special attention to EU policies.”  Trampusch’s study attempts to incorporate a dynamic conception of domestic institutional change into models of Europeanization.  Meanwhile, Michael Dobbins and Christopher Knill examine the effect of the Bologna Process on the structure of higher education institutions in Central and Eastern Europe.  They find “a massive expansion of transnational communication and interlinkages” but no clear trend toward policy convergence; in fact, “differences in Higher Education governance have increased.”  It is another reminder of the enduring effect of “national institutional peculiarities” on policy development.

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August 14, 2009 at 1:00 am

The role of bureaucrats in managing Sweden’s economic crisis

In the current issue of Governance, Carl Dahlström describes the role of central bankers and finance ministry bureaucrats in crafting a response to Sweden’s economic crisis in the early 1990’s.  Focusing on the attempt to restrain welfare program spending during the crisis, Dahlström finds that key bureaucrats played “a decisive role in shaping a retrenchment agenda,” limiting the burden of cuts on weak and unorganized groups.  The article challenges the “conventional wisdom onf welfare-state retrenchment,” which Dahlström says would have predicted a retrenchment policy that advantaged better organized interests.  See The Bureaucratic Politics of Welfare-State Crisis: Sweden in the 1990s, April 2009.

In How New Economic Ideas Changed the Danish Welfare State, meanwhile, Christian Albrekt Larsen and Jørgen Goul Andersen consider the impact of “new economic ideas” on the evolution of Danish welfare policy from 1993 to 2001.  This is a clear example of the “independent effect” of new ideas, the authors argue; Denmark’s Social Democratic governments shifted away from long-established positions that were favored by voters.  New ways of thinking about the country’s economic challenges became so firmly established that they “generated a ‘lock-in’ effect comparable to institutional path dependency.”

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April 24, 2009 at 8:36 am

How performance contracts are actually used

Delegation Without Agency Loss?  The Use of Performance Contracts in Danish Central Government provides an unusual empirical study of the way in which a widely-touted innovation — performance contracts — are actually used in practice.  The authors — Anne Skorkjaer Binderkrantz and Jorgen Gronnegaard Christensen — find “considerable variation in performance demands.”  The content of agreements hinges on the overall design of the ministry and the extent to which agencies have strong relationships with citizens and businesses.  “To an extremely high extent,” the authors conclude, “ministries have used their wide room for maneuver to design contracts according to portfolio and agency-specific needs.”  Efficiency, they find, is not usually a prominent concern.

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April 10, 2009 at 9:25 am

Regulating Europe’s privatized toll highways

“A wave of concession privatization is affecting the toll motorway sector in Europe,” say Daniel Albalate, Germa Bel, and Xavier Fageda, in the April 2009 (22.2) issue of Governance. But that hardly means that the role of the state is diminishing.  On the contrary, governments have created new regulatory capabilities that provide “a large capacity for public control and intervention.”  Read more here about the “paradox of privatization and reregulation.”

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April 10, 2009 at 8:48 am