- Editor's Note - Claudio M. Radaelli p. 5-6
- Democracy, Authoritarianism, and Policy Punctuations - Bryan D. Jones, Derek A. Epp and Frank R. Baumgartner p. 7-26
Do democracies perform better than more autocratic political systems? Most existing literature focuses on single issues, such as maintaining the peace, avoiding famines, or promoting stable economic growth. The key to policy success for all these and other issues is adaptive policymaking in complex, dynamic environments. Relying on theory and empirical tests from policy process studies, we focus on extreme policy punctuations as indicators of maladaptive policymaking. We conceive of a continuum from the most open democracies to the most closed authoritarian systems, with intermediate forms of less open democracies, hybrid regimes, and less closed authoritarian systems. Based on a review of the existing literature, we extract four factors that seem to affect maladaptive and hence more punctuated policymaking: friction imposed by formal rules and informal norms on the policymaking process, the absence of incentives to address problems, centralization in policymaking, and lack of diversity in channels of information. Many of these factors cluster, so it is difficult to discern their specific effects, but our approach allows a start at doing so.
- Procedural Policy Tools and the Temporal Dimensions of Policy Design - Michael Howlett p. 27-45
In recent years work on policy design and instrument choice has advanced towards a better understanding of the nature of policy mixes, their dimensions, and the trade-offs between choices of tools, as well as the identification of basic design criteria such as coherence, consistency and congruence among policy elements. However, most of this work has ignored the temporal dimension of mixes or has studied this only as an important contextual variable affecting instrument choices, for example, highlighting the manner in which tools and mixes often evolve in unexpected or unintended ways as they age. This ignores the important issue of the intentional sequencing of tools as part of a mix design, either in terms of controlling spillovers which emerge as implementation proceeds, ratcheting up (or down) specific tool effects like stringency of implementation and public consultation as time passes. This article reviews existing work on the unintentional sequencing of policy activity as well as the lessons which can be derived from the few works existing on the subject of intentional sequencing. In so doing, it helps define a research agenda on the subject with the expectation that this research can improve the resilience and robustness of policies over time.
- Strategic Policy Overreaction as a Risky Policy Investment - Moshe Maor p. 46-64
Policy overreaction is a policy that imposes objective and/or perceived social costs without producing offsetting objective and/or perceived benefits. It is therefore an objective fact and, at the same time, a matter of interpretation. Policy scholars tend to view this duality as a problematic ontological issue and to categorize such policies as errors of commission or omission. This article builds on (i)the aforementioned duality and (ii)a recent conceptual turn whereby this concept is re-entering the policy lexicon as a type of deliberate policy choice. This may be motivated by, among other factors, political executives' desire to pander to public opinion, appear informed to voters, and signal extremity. The article assigns specific policy overreaction responses to two dimensions: the scale of policy in terms of objective costs and benefits, and public perceptions of policy. The derived policy taxonomy highlights four distinct empirical categories, which are elaborated and exemplified here, as well as a set of hypotheses about differing patterns of politics and governance associated with the design of these policy choices. These distinctions should facilitate a more systematic empirical test of strategic policy overreaction as a risky policy investment.
- Open Government in Authoritarian Regimes - Karl O'Connor, Saltanat Janenova and Colin Knox p. 65-82
Open government has long been regarded as a pareto-efficient policy – after all, who could be against such compelling policy objectives as transparency, accountability, citizen engagement and integrity. This paper addresses why an authoritarian state would want to adopt a policy of open government, which may first seem counter-intuitive, and tracks its outworking by examining several facets of the policy in practice. The research uncovers evidence of insidious bureaucratic obstruction and an implementation deficit counter-posed with an outward-facing political agenda to gain international respectability. The result is ‘half-open' government in which the more benign elements have been adopted but the vested interests of government and business elites remain largely unaffected.
- Single-issue Ratifiers or Political Deliberators ? - Stefanie Pukallus p. 88-103
This paper examines how the European Commission interprets and applies the participatory norm in practice according to constructed strategic contexts. By taking a historical comparative approach and focusing on two examples it shows how, following the Maastricht ‘crisis' (1992-1998), the participatory norm in the form of debate and dialogue referred simply to a restricted discussion of Single Market rights (DD1). This was a rather limited, one-phased technical discussion on a single issue with an attendant conception of the public as single-issue ratifiers of already existing policies. In contrast, the aftermath of the Constitutional ‘crisis' (2005-09) led to a conception of debate and dialogue as ‘open-ended' (DD2); that is, a reflexive wide-ranging amorphous discussion on various and almost randomly chosen topics. DD2 assumed a public of able political discussants, of reflexive and skilful deliberators. What DD1, DD2 and their respective publics show is that when the participatory norm is applied, neither the form of debate and dialogue nor the publics are necessarily defined through universal democratic principles of political involvement and entitlements but rather in terms of expediency and contingent abilities to meet the needs of the European Commission's strategic agenda at any one time.
- Beyond the State : Global Policy and Transnational Administration - Kim Moloney and Diane Stone p. 104-118
The conceptual distance between the sovereign state and the global domain of policy making and administration is narrowing, challenging the prevailing methodological nationalism. The rise of global policy and transnational administration necessitates new conversations for traditional, often domestically focused, public policy and public administration studies. By expanding our analytical, theoretical, conceptual, and even our pedagogical approaches to include the kaleidoscope of global governance actors, levels of analysis, sectors, and concepts, not only is our policy research enhanced and deepened, but our ability to engage this complexity is enhanced.