For the first week of readings, please read Fukuyama’s Governance article and Weber carefully.
Please post your comments, three-sentence summaries, and/or reflections here.
The GovLab@Davidson is an academic group of faculty and undergraduates who collaborate on research focused on improving state capabilities and government effectiveness.
Eliza Patterson says
Dahlstrom and Lapuente’s article, “Bureaucracy and Government Quality”, begins by exploring the two competing schools of thought about bureaucratic autonomy, one side arguing that more bureaucratic autonomy leads to higher levels of economic development, and the other believing that bureaucrats should be strictly subordinate to their principals in order to ensure democratic accountability to elected officials. Both sides of this argument are concerned with how to make bureaucrats uphold the needs and wishes of their citizens, but the first believes this is better achieved by having highly educated public officials who operate independently of political parties, and the other believes it is more important to have bureaucrats who are responsive to the goals of the political leaders that the public has chosen for themselves. Dahlstrom and Lapuente conclude by arguing that in order to ensure a high quality of government, bureaucrats should be chosen based on their individual merits and work motivation, and not their political ideology.
Tommy Cromie says
In “What Is Governance?” Francis Fukuyama discusses the complexities of evaluating the quality of governance, as well as the trade offs between government capacity and bureaucratic autonomy. The differences in governments around the world creates a difficult landscape of corruption, bureaucratic rules and government capacity. India presents a country that needs more and less autonomy for different agencies for the bureaucracy to function better. Much of this is seen in how studies of bureaucracy are operationalized and one definition I found interesting was in End Note #6. This discussed using the term “accountability” as an antonym for autonomy. The semantics of language surrounding government can play a significant role when getting responses to surveys.
Kaizad Irani says
In Francis Fukuyama’s commentary, “What is Governance,” he calls for an increase study of the state, or the body that holds and implements government power, and evaluates four primary measures used to evaluate a strong government: 1. procedural measures; 2. capacity measures; 3. output measures; and 4. the degree of bureaucratic autonomy. Fukuyama begins his piece by refuting some of the Weberian characteristics used to measure government effectiveness (procedural measures) and later, rejects output measures as a credible factor because of reasons such as that it is difficult to measure a consequence back to one simple cause and that bias can come from outcome results (An example being standardized test scores and quality of education). He concludes by stating that the most optimal way to measure quality of governance is through a combination of capacity measures and the degree of bureaucratic autonomy, arguing that governments need to have a high capacity to enforce laws (Fukuyama used tax extraction as an example) and finding the right balance of autonomy and the use of mandates (an inverse relationship), giving a slight edge to more autonomy being better for a government as it can spark innovation and creativity.