Fukuyama on Measuring Governance

by Erik Voeten on March 12, 2013 · 3 comments

in Comparative Politics,General Politics

The journal Governance has posted a new commentary (freely available) by Francis Fukuyama on how to measure governance. His main critique of existing measures is that they focus too much on measuring constraints on the executive (checking institutions) and too little on the ability to execute (“power-employing institutions”). Fukuyama then devises a new conceptual measurement scheme based on autonomy and capacity. Governance has also published a set of mostly critical comments by several noted scholars on its blog by Bo Rothstein, Thomas Risse,  David Levi-Faur Christopher Pollitt John Luiz,  Peter Nardulli Thomas Hale ,  Matthew Flinders, and  Shiv Visvanathan. Two common themes in the critiques are that Fukuyama focuses too much on governments and ignores private actor governance and that he does not start from a normative framework that defines what good governance should look like.

Btw, Governance has a very nice model for how to integrate a blog with journal content. I hope other journals take notice.

{ 3 comments }

Matt Stevens March 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

Huh, it sounds like stuff Michael Mann talked about 30 years ago.

… Sure enough, he references Mann’s “despotic” vs. “infrastructural” power distinction. I’m not sure if he’s bringing up anything new, but “state theory” appears to have died out (none of the NYU grad students I’ve spoken to have even heard of it) so maybe it needs to be brought up again.

Felix March 12, 2013 at 11:55 am

His main critique of existing measures is that they focus too much on measuring constraints on the executive (checking institutions) and too little on the ability to execute (“power-employing institutions”)

I agree, this does not seem to be groundbreaking new stuff and sounds a lot like Scharpf’s distinction between input and output legitimacy. Even the OECD has adopted the language. And there’s a similar discussion by Cullen Hendrix in JPR (gated). Of course, that doesn’t mean everything has been said on the subject. But I’m not buying it as “new” (which, BTW, wasn’t implied in Eric’s post, but rather by the prominent feature of the topic in Governance).

Joseph Young March 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Yes, this is old wine in used bottles. I do think, however, it is an important point. Both Cullen Hendrix (see above) and I wrote our dissertations making a similar set of claims. To be fair, we (or at least I) were also building on a whole line of work including Mann, Nordlinger, Margaret Levi and others. Haven’t read Fukuyama carefully yet, just the debate, but I will be interested to see if builds on these folks as well.

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