News from Governance May 29, 2013
An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions

Co-Editors  Alasdair S. Roberts and Robert H. Cox  Book Review Editor  Clay Wescott 
Below: Debate on dutch disability reform and voter attitudes toward minorities
Making change: Three ways or one?
The current issue of Governance contains a set of articles that mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Peter Hall's classic article, "Paradigms, Social Learning, and the State."  The articles were prepared for a symposium held at Suffolk University in Boston in December 2011.  A World Bank blog calls the special issue "compelling" and discusses its relevance to the current debate over policy responses to the financial crisis.
Frank Baumgartner

In his contribution to the special issue, Frank Baumgartner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examines the commonalities and differences between Hall's approach and his own work with Bryan Jones on policy change.  Baumgartner questions Hall's view that there are three different types of policy change, of increasing severity.  "It may be possible," he argues, "to conceive of a single process that can explain the full range of types of change."  Baumgartner illustrates this argument by examining changes in the federal budget over the last sixty years.  Read the article.
After twenty years, what do we know about the role of ideas?
Sheri Berman
What have we learned about the role of ideas in political life since Peter Hall's influential article on policy paradigms appeared twenty years ago?  In the current issue of Governance, Sheri Berman examines the strengths and weaknesses of current scholarship on the role of ideas.  "The way forward," Berman says, involves work in three important areas: developing clearer definitions of ideational variables, a better understanding of the processes by which ideas become institutionalized so that they have durable influence, and more careful analysis of how ideas shape actors' motivations.  Read the article.
How attractiveness leads to leads to success
Robert H. Cox
Why do some ideas succeed, and even acquire paradigmatic status?  In the current issue of Governance, Robert H. Cox and Daniel Beland argue that a key consideration is the attractiveness of an idea -- a quality they call its valence.  Multiple factors heighten valence, including the newness of a concept and its level of abstraction.  Cox and Beland show how valence has influenced the spread of the concept of sustainability.  "By examining the transformation of sustainability from a limited policy domain to paradigmatic status in several policy areas," they argue, "we can identify the factors that have made the idea attractive."  Read the article.
Dutch disability reform: Did attitudes toward ethnic minorities matter?

In a recent article in Governance, Paulette Kurzer examined the politics of disability reform in the Netherlands.  On the Governance blog, Jan-Maarten van Sonsbeek and Raymond Gradus comment on Kurzer's argument.  "The supposed link between acceptance of the reforms by the voters and the attitude of the voters towards ethnic minorities is not so strong as Kurzer suggests," van Sonsbeek and Gradus argue. 

And Kurzer responds: "A substantial minority of Dutch voters harbored many reservations about multiculturalism and non-Western immigrants. . . . A sizable minority in the Dutch electorate struggled with the concept that minorities enjoy the same rights as native Dutch when in fact the former fail to meet their societal obligations."  Go to the Governance blog.
Book reviews: Global governance, unexpected social pacts


In the current issue of Governance, Nargiz Shakikhanova of the University of Trento reviews Who Governs the Globe?, edited by Deborah Avant, Martha Finnemore and Susan Sell.  The book "is an agent-centric analysis of a rich variety of global governors, their authority, and the relationships between them," Shakikhanova says.  "It is a valuable and thought-provoking contribution to the field."  Read the review.

And Ivan F. Dumka of the University of Victoria reviews Social Pacts in Europe, edited by Sabina Avdagic, Martin Rhodes and Jelle Visser.  It is a "fascinating puzzle," Dumka says, why comprehensive social pacts between governments, labor and employers appear in countries with few of the institutional prerequisites for tripartite concertation.  This book makes "a novel empirical and theoretical contribution" by explaining when such pacts are likely to appear.  Read the review.