March 13, 2017

SOG is the IPSA Research Committee on the Structure and Organization of Government.  It has been the academic sponsor of the journal Governance  since its creation by SOG in 1988.    Learn more.
The rise and fall of performance management in India
 
In 2014, the performance management model seemed to be well established in India's central government.  Today, everything has changed.  "India has no formal system for government performance management," Prajapati Trivedi writes in commentary for Governance, "and all performance reviews are done in the office of the Prime Minister in the old-fashioned way."  Trivedi explains the "spectacular rise . . . and speedy demise" of performance management.  The story "offers valuable lessons for future reformers" in other democracies. Trivedi received ASPA's International Public Administration Award at its March conference.   Free access to the commentary.
What drives legitimacy in post-conflict societies?
 
Rebuilding institutional legitimacy is essential for stability in postconflict societies.  But what factors influence citizen perceptions of legitimacy?   Kylie Fisk and Adrian Cherney answer the question using data from a nationwide study of post-conflict governance in Nepal.  They find that the relationship between service delivery and legitimacy "is not as simple as previously assumed."  Procedural justice is more strongly associated with perceptions of legitimacy than instrumental outcomes such as service delivery, distributive justice, and outcome favorability Read the article .
Explaining the ebb and flow of legislative power
 
The balance of power between executive and legislative branches in Latin American governments has varied significantly over time.  But this is not the result of changes in the formal division of powers between the two branches.  What explains the ebb and flow of legislative strength?   Sarah Shair-Rosenfield and Alissandra Stoyan argue that a key factor is "legislator professionalization," which they define as a function of prior legislative and professional work experience.  Examining the track record of four Latin American countries, they find that legislatures are more likely to curb executive power when legislators are strongly professionalized, controlling for constitutional provisions and several other factors.   Read the article .
How US public service executives make decisions
 
Senior government executives often depend on groups of advisors to help them overcome the challenges of decisionmaking .  But this raises the risk of " groupthink ."  In a study of executives in the US federal government,  Steven Kelman , Ronald Sanders , and Gayatri Pandit find that the dominant technique for avoiding groupthink is vigilant decisionmaking , which involves active solicitation of dissenting views and close scrutiny of alternatives.  But successful executives are also found to have a bias for action.  "What distinguishes outstanding executives," the authors find, "is not vigiliance  but decisiveness."   Read the article .
Reviews: Do-it-yourself democracy, smarter states
 
In the current issue of Governance, Robert Chaskin reviews Do-It-Yourself Democracy by Caroline W. Lee.  Lee's analysis is "unsettling," Chaskin says, showing how deliberative processes can be designed " in ways that legitimize cost cutting and retrenchment and that promote participant alignment with state or corporate requirements for austerity.   Read the review.

And Scott Fritzen reviews Smart Citizens, Smarter State by Beth Simone Noveck.  The book "makes an impassioned plea for 'reinventing government' in the twenty-first century."  Fritzen says that Noveck's analysis is "nuanced, grounded in historical analysis, practical experience in government, multiple disciplines and a close reading of democratic and institutional theory."   Read the review.