2 November 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 creation by SOG in 1988.    Learn more.
In Westminster systems, public servants hold the line
In Westminster systems, senior public servants have traditionally avoided overtly political roles.  Some critics have alleged that recent public sector reforms have undermined that tradition of impartiality.  In the current issue of Governance, Dennis Grube and Cosmo Howard conclude that fears about the collapse of traditional norms are overstated.  Drawing on cases from Canada and Australia, Grube and Howard conclude that "There remains a strong ethical awareness among senior public servants about how far they can legitimately allow themselves  to be pushed under a Westminster system."  Read the article. The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.
How the GFC changed ideas about ministerial control
Before Brexit there was the global financial crisis.  In the current issue of Governance, Katherine Dommett, Muiris MacCarthaigh, and Niamh Hardiman examine how the GFC changed ideas about the organization of bureaucracy in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  The conventional Westminster model stressed centralization and ministerial control.  The conventional model was weakened because of NPM-style reforms.  But the authors find that the GFC caused another swing of the pendulum.  Austerity drives resulted in "efforts to reassert central government oversight."  But the authors find that the end result was not simply a restoration of pre-NPM practices.  Rather, it was a more nuanced process of "negotiated governance."   Read the article . The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.
Canada dares to change, cautiously
In the current issue of Governance, Evert Lindquist and Chris Eichbaum argue that studies of Westminster systems need to expand their view beyond the relationship between politicians and public servants.  The Westminster model also includes "tacit bargains" between ministers and caucuses, and between governments and the general public.  Canada did not undertake reforms as radical as other Westminster systems.  But the Harper government (2006-2015) did upset the status quo, often provoking strong resistance.  Lindquist and Eichbaum contrast Canadian developments with other systems, and consider how the new Trudeau government may change course.   Read the article . The article is part of a special issue on the future of the Westminster model.
Call for nominations: 2017 Levine Book Prize
The Levine Book Prize Committee is seeking nominations for the 2017 Levine Prize.   More details here .  The committee is composed of Professors Tobias Bach (University of Oslo), Caspar van den Berg (Leiden University), and Ting Gong (City University of Hong Kong).    Information about previous winners is available here .
Book reviews: Hive minds, US foreign policy, Indian cities

In the current issue of Governance,  Fred Thompson reviews Hive Mind by Garett Jones .  "Jones sets out to explain why higher cognitive ability scores are so much more important for collectivities than for individuals."  It might be the year's most important economics book, says Thompson.  Read the review.

Oliver Stuenkel reviews Sailing the Water's Edge: The Domestic Politics of American Foreign Policy by Helen Milner and Dustin Tingley.  The book shows how "the president's ability to obtain his desired foreign policy depends on negotiations with Congress, as well as public opinion and interest group support.  This matters far more than mainstream IR literature recognizes."  This is an important contribution to the debate about US foreign policy, Stuenkel says.   Read the review.

And Tanu Kumar reviews Contesting the Indian City, edited by Gavin Shatkin.  Each chapter "is carefully researched and paints a vivid picture of life and politics in an Indian city."  But the broader theoretical contributions "remain unclear" Read the review.
SOG seeks new editorial team for Governance
The IPSA Research Committee on the Structure and Organization of Government (SOG), the academic sponsor of  Governance  is looking for a new editorial team. The current editorial team of Alasdair Roberts and Robert Cox will complete their term in December 2017. More information is available here. Interested scholars should contact Professor Martin Lodge at M.Lodge@lse.ac.uk.  According to Journal Citation Reports, Governance is ranked #2 in public administration and #5 in political science internationally.  It is the only journal in the world that is ranked in the top five in both fields.