Designing Government

Designing Government: From Instruments to Governance

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 467
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  • Book Info
    Designing Government
    Book Description:

    How do governments govern today and how well do they do it? How do governments choose the tools or instruments they will use to get things done? In today's world, how could these decisions be improved from the standpoint of efficiency, effectiveness, legitimacy and accountability? "Designing Government" brings together leading experts to examine the "instrument choice" perspective on government and public policy over the past two decades. The authors examine such issues as accountability, effectiveness, sustainability, legitimacy, and the impact of globalization. The debate is enriched by contributors from several countries who provide a comparative context and, most importantly, help chart a course for the future. Moving beyond the traditional regulatory sphere and its preoccupations with deregulation and efficiency, the authors trace the complex relationships between instrument choices and governance. "Designing Government" encourages the reader to consider factors in the design of complex mixes, such as issues of redundancy, context, the rule of law and accountability. These latter factors are especially central in today's world to the design and implementation of effective instrument choices by governments and, ultimately, to good governance. The authors conclude, in fact, that seeing instrument choice itself as part and parcel of designing government and achieving good governance is both the promise and the challenge for instrument-based perspectives in the years ahead. Contributors include Hans Bressers (University of Twente), Neil Gunningham (Australian National University), John Hoornbeck (University of Pittsburgh), Margaret Hill (Infrastructure Canada), Michael Howlett (Simon Fraser University), Bridget Hutter (London School of Economics and Political Science), Pierre Issalys (Université Laval), Réjean Landry (Laval University), Roderick A. Macdonald (McGill University), Larry O'Toole (University of Georgia), B. Guy Peters (University of Pittsburgh), Michael J. Prince (University of Victoria), Sean Rehaag (University of Toronto), Arthur B. Ringeling (Erasmus University), Stephen J. Toope (McGill University), Michael J. Trebilcock (University of Toronto), Frédéric Varone (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium), and Kernaghan Webb (Carleton University).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8170-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    In 1982 the Economic Council of Canada published the seminal studyThe Choice of Governing Instrument, by Michael Trebilcock, Robert Prichard, Douglas Hartle, and Donald Dewees.² This study captured the essence of earlier groundbreaking insights by distinguished scholars such as Harold Lasswell, Murray Edelman, Theodore Lowi, and Lester Salamon into the actions of governments.³ It provided a concise conceptual touchstone for further investigations into the nature of government action and played an important role, in Canada and elsewhere, both in catalyzing the development of what is now generally called the “instrument-choice” perspective on public policy and administration and in helping...

    • 1 Tools as Art: Observations on the Choice of Governing Instrument
      (pp. 21-30)

      What makes a great painting great or a great piece of sculpture great? As students of art appreciate, “all study [of art], whether critical or historical, logically begins with the work of art itself” (Taylor 1981, ix). What makes the work great is its elegant mixture ofsubject matterandexpressive content(ibid., 51).

      Greatness is judged in many ways. A work of art may be considered great because it has “wow” power for visitors to a gallery. It may achieve the status of greatness because it has a profound, long-lasting impact on those who have “learned to look,” or...

    • 2 What Is a Policy Instrument? Tools, Mixes, and Implementation Styles
      (pp. 31-50)

      Policy instruments are techniques of governance that, one way or another, involve the utilization of state authority or its conscious limitation. They fall not only within the domain of political science, but also, since they often affect the behaviour of individuals in society as they go about their daily tasks, within the realm of economics. Not surprisingly, therefore, the study of policy instruments has long been characterized by the existence of two virtually independent streams of literature. There is the study of policy instruments undertaken by economists and that undertaken by political scientists, and the two approaches differ substantially.¹


    • 3 The Choice of Governing Instrument: A Retrospective
      (pp. 51-74)

      In our 1982 study,The Choice of Governing Instrument, undertaken for the Economic Council of Canada’s Regulatory Reference, I and three colleagues (the late Douglas Hartle, Robert Prichard, and Donald Dewees) sought to demonstrate that the policy objectives of government are often radically at variance with the normative prescriptions of welfare economics – according to which state intervention should be limited to correcting for pronounced and reasonably well-defined categories of market failures, such as those deriving from monopolies, externalities, insufficient access to public goods, and imperfect information – and will in fact extend to any number of other objectives, including both...

    • 4 The Problem of Policy Problems
      (pp. 77-105)

      Policy design involves developing models of causation, instrumentation, and evaluation (Linder and Peters 1984, 1989; Ringeling ch. 8 herein) and then finding ways of linking these three models. As the literature on policy design has developed, the principal emphasis has been on the nature of policy instruments, or “tools,” and on the political process of linking instruments and policy evaluations. By contrast, the literature linking problems and tools has been less well developed. While the long-term goals of such an effort should be to catalogue differing kinds of problems and to link them logically and empirically with appropriate forms of...

    • 5 The Choice of Policy Instruments: Confronting the Deductive and the Interactive Approaches
      (pp. 106-131)

      Studies on policy instruments usually assume that transformation of the scope, scale, and forms of government intervention triggers either the emergence of new instruments or different choices of instruments (Salamon 2002). This chapter attempts to extend this argument by laying stress on changes in the policy environment – more specifically on changes in the problems needing resolution, in the variety of contexts, and in the diversity of actors’ abilities, attitudes, motivations, and reasons for resisting changes in behaviour – that prevent the derivation of one permanent best-policy instrument that is valid for each and every problem (thus the need to avoid the...

    • 6 Instrument Selection and Implementation in a Networked Context
      (pp. 132-153)

      The tools of government are not at the unencumbered disposal of formal policy makers. While instruments of governance may sometimes seem like so many arrows in a quiver, like options merely awaiting selection and application at appropriate strategic moments by public officials, this appearance is deceptive. This point holds, we argue in this chapter, for the selection of instruments, as they are likewise subject to constraints, and is even more important for those interested in having instruments actually make a useful contribution to achieving policy goals during implementation.

      In the following, we point to some constraints on instrument selection stemming...

    • 7 Choosing among Forms of Public Action: A Question of Legitimacy
      (pp. 154-182)

      Should political decision makers contemplating specific types of public intervention – for example, a grant program, a tax incentive, a regulation containing a reference to technical standards, joint action by public and private stakeholders based on a contractual “partnership,” delegation of authority to a self-regulating body, legislation formulating a program of public and private action, granting authority to waive statutory requirements, instituting criminal sanctions, and so forth – be concerned with the legitimacy of their choices? If so, in what way? In what terms should they pose the question of the legitimacy of their choices? And by what method might they attempt...

    • 8 Instruments in Four: The Elements of Policy Design
      (pp. 185-202)

      People rallied in The Hague, the Netherlands. It was the spring of 1934. Carrying flags and banners, they shouted: “Say yes to the plan!” The Western World was in the middle of the Great Depression. The plan encompassed an economic-recovery strategy. Two economists from the Netherlands – Herman de Man, a Belgian, and Jan Tinbergen, a future Nobel-prize winner – had developed a policy to get people back to work where the market, in that era, had failed. The message of the plan was that the Dutch government had to invest in public works and hire unemployed people. The designers as well...

    • 9 The Swiss Army Knife Of Governance
      (pp. 203-241)

      The organizers of the conference giving rise to this volume embarked on an audacious endeavour that might reasonably be characterized as abeau risque– a risk that those who have engaged in transdisciplinary research know all too well.² The risk is nicely framed by the metaphor of Babel: a failure of communication. Bringing together scholars and policy makers from different political states and from different disciplinary perspectives to address complex problems immediately engages two epistemological inquiries about integrating the various contributions: (1) Is there an Archimedean point from which the different texts may be judged, or must all disciplines be...

    • 10 Sustainable Governance in the Twenty-First Century: Moving beyond Instrument Choice
      (pp. 242-280)

      The position taken in this chapter is that there is considerable value in moving beyond narrow investigations of which policy instrument governments should use to more broad and nuanced inquiries into how a range of societal actors can organize themselves to address problems of mutual concern. By changing the focus of inquiry in this manner, it is possible to more directly address some of the new realities of governing in the twenty-first century. These “new realities,” which will be more fully explored in the body of the chapter, include:

      Factors that highlight some of the limits of the state, such...

    • 11 From Welfare State to Social Union: Shifting Choices of Governing Instruments, Intervention Rationales, and Governance Rules in Canadian Social Policy
      (pp. 281-302)

      Consideration of policy tools helps us to understand the nature of social programs by giving us an appreciation for potential options in debating and designing policies of the Canadian state. In this chapter, the connection between governing instruments and rationales for government intervention is explored within the context of social policy, the Social Union Framework Agreement (SUFA) between the federal government and the provinces and territories, and the vastly improved budgetary circumstances of the federal government.

      In focusing on the tools and rationales of public action, fiscal resources, and intergovernmental relations, my aim is to identify trends both in the...

    • 12 Risk Management and Governance
      (pp. 303-321)

      In recent decades we have witnessed a move from government to governance. In the regulatory area this move has embraced a broad mix of state and nonstate sources of regulation and the use of various instruments that combine incentives and sanctions and appeal to varying deterrence and social-responsibility motivations among the regulated. Good governance has come to refer to coordinated, “joined-up” approaches to policy making, to a recognition that both governments and business are involved in the allocation of finite resources, and to a need for regulatory regimes and agencies to be regarded as legitimate. Such a climate has in...

    • 13 Globalization and Instrument Choice: The Role of International Law
      (pp. 322-332)

      First we must offer a confession: We are scholars of international law. This means that we are most imperfect political scientists. Our methodologies are suspect because our profession is devoted not merely to describing how things are, but also to imagining how they might be if the nations of the world actually acted in accordance with their oft-stated respect for an international rule of law.¹ We must also emphasize, by way of preface, that our discussion will focus primarily upon the ways international norms are coming to shape Canadian law and politics and, therefore, to shape the parameters of “instrument...

    • 14 Reconfiguring Environmental Regulation
      (pp. 333-352)

      This chapter reviews the changing role of the regulatory state and the evolution of a number of next-generation policy instruments intended to overcome, or at least to mitigate, the considerable problems associated with previous policy initiatives and with traditional forms of regulation in particular. The goal is, in the words of the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA 2000, 1), “to adapt, improve and expand the diversity of our environmental strategies” and to address the circumstances not only of laggards but also of leaders.

      Over the last two decades, policy reform has taken place in what is, in many respects,...

  8. Conclusion: The Future of Instruments Research
    (pp. 353-364)

    The research presented in this volume, along with the scholarly work contained in other recent publications on policy instruments (see especially Salamon 2002; Peters and van Nispen 1998), indicates the significance of the progress that has been made in understanding the nature and importance of instruments in the policy process. Although much of this development has been done in an academic context, the practical application of this work has not been lost on government; indeed, this book and the conference that provided its basis are a consequence of the concern of government officials about the need to understand instruments in...

  9. Notes and References
    (pp. 365-450)
  10. Index
    (pp. 451-454)