News from Governance April 10, 2015
An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions

Co-Editors  Alasdair S. Roberts and Robert H. Cox   Book Review Editor  Clay Wescott 
NPM after 30 years: Higher costs, more complaints
In 1980 Michael Heseltine, a key Cabinet minister in the government of Margaret Thatcher, said that "efficient management is the key to revival" of British government.


The United Kingdom was a "vanguard state" for experimentation with administrative reforms that came to be known as the New Public Management, or NPM.  After three decades, what results has NPM produced in the UK?  Christopher Hood and Ruth Dixon address that question in a commentary for Governance.  Complaints about maladministration and judicial challenges to government action increased markedly, Hood and Dixon say, while administrative costs "rose substantially" in real terms.  On the other hand, trust in government did not collapse, as many critics of NPM feared, and administrative costs did take up a smaller share of total public spending.  The overall conclusion?  "Government worked a bit worse and cost a bit more."  Free access to the commentary.

Related reading: In a commentary for Governance in July 2014, Jonathan Boston and Chris Eichbaum assessed thirty years of neoliberal reform in New Zealand, another "vanguard state" for NPM.  Read their commentary.
How the IMF learned from the financial crisis

 

The International Monetary Fund has often been criticized for its rigid commitment to a doctrinaire view view of economic development.  But the IMF did learn and adapt its policies as a result of the financial crisis.  That is the conclusion of Cornel Ban and Kevin Gallagher, in their introduction to a special issue of Governance.  Change was driven by three factors: "IMF staff politics, a string of innovations coming from academic and IMF economists, and the emerging economic powers' creative leveraging of institutional fora."  Read the articleRelated reading: On the Washington Post website, Ban and Gallagher recap the main findings from the special issue

The crisis pushed the IMF back to basics

 

For many years the IMF was criticized for using its lending power to promote a set of structural reforms that were known as the Washington Consensus.  The influence of the IMF increased as countries sought assistance during the financial crisis, and some critics said that the IMF was using the crisis as an opportunity to advance this old agenda.  In the current issue of Governance, Andr? Broome  shows that the IMF actually shifted away from its old emphasis on structural economic reforms, focusing more narrowly on the task of fiscal consolidation.  But Broome warns that his findings do not yet indicate a "broader shift in the organization's policy paradigm."  Read the article

Insiders versus outsiders on IMF surveillance teams

 

Protests in Iceland in 2010. In 2006, the IMF praised the stability of Iceland's financial system.

The IMF spends much of its time monitoring national economies.  But who exactly does the work?  In the current issue of Governance, Leonard Seabrooke and Emelie Rebecca Nilsson use innnovative methods to look at struggles over the composition of IMF surveillance teams.  The IMF's failure to anticipate the crisis seemed to illustrate the need for increased private sector expertise on these teams.   But IMF staff  successfully resisted this initiative, limiting the number of private sector experts included on the teams.  The pushback reduced the risk that outside experts would jeopardize IMF staff influence over the substance of surveillance activities.   Read the article.

openquote To bridge the scholarship-policy gap, academics must balance rigor and relevance with a third "R"-readability.  There is no shortage of important  scholarly work that goes unnoticed or unread because of its presentation.

 

Stephen Del Rosso, "Our new three R's", Governance, April 2015