March 21, 2016

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 establishment by SOG in 1988.    Learn more.
Debate: Is American government too open?
It's been 50 years since the U.S. Congress adopted the Freedom of Information Act, which provides access to documents held by federal agencies. Since 1966, Congress has adopted many other laws designed to promote openness. But has the United States gone too far, undermining the capacity of public officials to solve our major problems?  In a commentary for Governance, Bruce Cain of Stanford University says yes, American government is now too open.  And Charles Lewis of American University responds in a second commentary: No, it isn't.   

Cain and Lewis engaged in an in-person debate about their commentaries at the University of Missouri on March 15.  Watch the debate here.
Afghanistan: Why statebuilding failed
Why has the project of statebuilding in Afghanistan proved to be such a failure?  Because of a misguided preoccupation with the build-up of "power-deploying institutions," and the neglect of mechanisms for holding power-holders accountable.  So says Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili in the current issue of Governance. "Afghanistan illustrates how a fragile state requires enough capacity to defeat insurgents, but enough constraints to discourage officials from predation and abuse. Unfortunately, well-crafted constraints often seem like an afterthought, as state-building efforts obsess withbuilding quick capacity."  Free access to the commentary.
Is public management neglecting the state?
Public Management is a field of research and teaching that is now almost four decades old.  But questions have been raised about its scope and methods of inquiry.  In a roundtable for Governance, ten authors debate whether Public Management should broaden its ambitions. Developed mainly within a small set of wealthy and consolidated democracies, Public Management research may be premised on assumptions about state sovereignty, capabilities, and legitimacy that are not tenable in most countries -- and are perhaps increasingly untenable in the advanced democracies as well.    Read the article.  

Contributors include Brint Milward, Laura Jensen, Alasdair Roberts, Mauricio Dussauge-Laguna, Veronica Junjan, René Torenvlied, Arjen Boin, H.K. Colebatch, Donald Kettl and Robert Durant

This compendium was prepared for a panel discussion at the research conference of the Public Management Research Association at the University of Aarhus in June 2016.  More about the conference.
Polycentrism improves Kenyan water management
After independence, Kenya adopted the standard practice of centralized control over water resources to improve agricultural productivity.  By the 1980s, the centralized model was in disarray.  In the current issue of Governance, Elizabeth Baldwin, Camille Washington-Ottombre, Jampel Dell'Angelo, Daniel Cole, and Tom Evans  explain what happened next. Kenya pursued a polycentric approach to water governance, in which decision making about water resources is shared among multiple, overlapping local, regional, and national authorities. The new approach has proved to be better suited to Kenya's variable social and ecological conditions and the available resources of its administrative agencies.   Read the article .