News from Governance September 23, 2013
An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions

Co-Editors  Alasdair S. Roberts and Robert H. Cox  Book Review Editor  Clay Wescott 
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How to build a Frankenstate: Use checklists
 
In the current issue of Governance, Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton University criticizes the use of checklists that are intended to determine whether countries are respecting the rule of law.  The problem with checklists, Scheppele says, is that they overlook the malignant effects that can follow when "perfectly legal and reasonable constitutional components are stitched together."  The result is the Frankenstate: a monster created because of unexpected interaction effects.  "A Frankenstate pioneer," Scheppele explains, "is the Hungarian government led by Prime Minister Victor Orb�n and his Fidesz political party."  The alternative to simplistic checklists is forensic legal analysis, which anticipates how a constitutional order will work in practice.  Free access to the commentary.
We've been warned before
 
null Beware of simplistic responses to complex problems of governance.  That was Merilee Grindle's message in the October 2004 issue of Governance.  Grindle argued for "a more nuanced understanding of the evolution of institutions and government capabilities."  Read the article.  Grindle revisited the subject seven years later, arguing for "situationally determined responses" to governance problems.  Read the article.  In 2010, Matt Andrews also criticized "one best way" approaches to reform.  Read the article.  And in 2011, Richard Allen reviewed Alasdair Roberts' book The Logic of Discipline, which criticized an approach to reform that Roberts called "na�ve institutionalism."  Read the review.
South Korea: Shuffling ministers too frequently

 

In the current issue of Governance, Sung Deuk Hahm, Kwangho Jung, and Sam Youl Lee examine patterns in the appointment of ministers South Korean presidents between 1980 and 2008.  The shift toward a democratic presidency has been accompanied by a shift away from technocratic ministerial appointments.  But presidents now have a habit of shuffling ministers too frequently.  The average ministerial appointment is now only one year -- not long enough for ministers to counter the power of career bureaucrats.  Read the article
Book review: Goertz and Mahoney on methods
 
null "I wanted to love this book," Michael Woolcock of Harvard University says, "and ended up merely liking it."  The book in question is A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences, by Gary Goertz and James Mahoney.  The authors "strive to articulate a metaframework that identifies how qualitative and quantitative approaches can peacefully coexist," Woolcock says.  But the project is compromised by the book's inattention to forms of qualitative research used by many scholars.  Still, Woolcock lauds A Tale of Two Cultures as "an important landmark contribution to social science research."  Read the review.
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