In Robert Cameron’s article, “Redefining political-administrative relationships in South Africa,” he discusses the growing politicization of public services and the South African bureaucracy. The piece begins by examining the New Public Management (NPM) movement in the 1980s that was focused on privatization and the early rise of politicization with managers having more control over their selection for agency heads. After giving a short summary of the government structure in South Africa, Cameron goes on to explore the politicization before 1994 with the control of office that the National Party had, citing that 40% of directors were appointed by political influence and 13% by both seniority and political influence. This escalated with the African National Congress (ANC) and their appointments of those individuals who supported their radical policies. After exploring some of the data behind his results, Cameron concludes by calling for a reform of public service policy by moving “away from the ANC’s Cadre Policy and Deployment Strategy to a merit-based human resources system” and writing that depolarizing the bureaucracy will lead to more effective public service delivery (698).
In this paper, Carolyn and Martin Needleman argue that scholars and the general public have a common understand that the Mexican political system is ultimately run by the president, with a central reliance on interest groups and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) while ignoring the voices of the local Mexican people. However, the authors write that many American scholars hold different interpretations on how governmental power is actually distributed throughout the Mexican government. The first is the that president is omnipotent, meaning that his power comes from “a personal charisma” and that there is a leadership group, the “Revolution Family,” composed of governmental elites that can influence decisions (1017). Second, is the view that the president relies completely on interest groups and the PRI to influence decisions, which results in political stagnation as they all attempt to compromise on their respective policy ideas. Third, the president’s power is at the extent of the bureaucracy and has been decentralized to the local level, eliminating the PRI’s and president’s role in decision making. Lastly, some believe that the president acts as an administrator and works closely with the bureaucracy. After discussing the four view, the authors question and evaluate how the president can supervise the bureaucracy, can respond to the demands of interest groups, and allow the PRI to work hand-in-hand in policy formulation. Although I appreciated how the authors clearly divided the four point of views and shared quotes from authors defending each point, I would have liked to see more empirical data and real-world examples showing how presidents have acted in one or more of these classifications. However, I ultimately agree with the theme of the paper which is that in order to help advance the Mexican political process and governmental capability/efficiency, there needs to be a better understanding on how power dynamics work within the government.
In this chapter, Bussell argues that using technology can improve the quality of reforms and increase the efficiency of service delivery. She begins by giving a brief history of the rise of the “one-stop, computerized service centers.” Starting in the late 1990s, they were implemented with the goal of making government services more transparent and accessible, with example uses including queuing system, document transfer, and holding databases of citizen information. The general goal of them was to reduce the frequency of government-citizen interaction in helping to combat corruption. The author transitions to looking at the Karnataka case study, by contrasting government offices without computerized services to both traditional and private owned offices with computerized services. In short, Bussell’s data concludes that computerized services reduce bribery and generally, lead to better economic, governance, and service outcomes. In future chapters, Bussell further explores the trade-off between implementing technology-based service reforms and preexisting corruption.
This chapter focuses on what can be done to improve the effects of building state capacity and introduces an approach called “problem-driven iterative adaptation” (PDIA) as an effective measure. To explain PDIA, the authors focus on a classroom exercise where participants attempt to design a strategy to travel from east to west in the United States in 2015 and 1804. The 2015 strategy is fairly straightforward, as the participants conclude that there is a clearly identified solution, existing knowledge to help them plan their route, a single leader, and a small group of individuals required to travel with relatively little risk. On the other hand, the 1804 strategy shows that there must be experimental iterations and adaptations to travel westward, along with multiple leaders managing risk factors and a large group of individuals with different talents. The 1804 strategy is similar to what the authors define PDIA is: “A process strategy that does not rely on blueprints and known solutions as the key to building state capability…[it should] foster active, ongoing experimental iterations…establish an authorizing environment for decision-making that encourages experimentation…[and]engage broad sets of agents to ensure that reforms are viable” (154). The authors conclude the chapter with data supporting the claim that effective state building encompasses the ideas of both the 2015 and 1804 strategy, with the 1804 strategy being more dominant.
Out of all the assigned readings for the corruption section of POL 259, my favorite was “Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets” by Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel. The article investigates the social norms and legal enforcement abilities, which are both contributors to corruption, of UN employees by studying their parking behavior. The authors found that officials from traditionally corrupt countries obtain more parking violations than those from traditionally non-corrupt countries. Additionally, the paper included other variables and tests, finding notable results that include the fact that parking violations increase by each additional month that the diplomat is living in New York City and that an increase in legal enforcements led to a drastic decrease in parking violations. Furthermore, this paper cites Illyana Kuziemko’s and Eric Weker’s report, “How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth,” which studies bribery and corruption in the UN Security Council and was the inspiration for my final project. Tentatively, I plan on investigating corruption and bribery within the UN by looking at data that suggests that the United States increases aid to rotating members on the Security Council in exchange for votes and political favors.
In the article, “Civil service management and corruption: What we know and what we don’t,” authors Jan-Hinrik Meyer Sahling, Kim Sass Mikkelsen, and Christian Schuster argue for an increase in research on the relationship between the organization and structure of civil service systems and corruption levels. They begin by evaluating the existing literature discussing civil service and corruption and drawing three main conclusions: 1. There is a positive relationship between employer recruitment that is based on merit and a decrease in corruption, 2. There is a varied correlation between pay levels and corruption, most likely due to the nuances in measuring pay levels such as pay raises and starting salaries, and 3. Existing literature provides limited evidence on the relationship between HRM (Human Resource Management) functions, like promotions or job stability, and corruption levels. The authors conclude that more research into these categories, along with expanding their study of civil service management practices and attempting to use more statistical causal identification methods, would help policy makers in their fight to reduce government corruption.