“However, without basic capacity, no amount of transparency and accountability will produce good services.” Capacity turns on culture; that is, culture underlays state capacity – the organizing principle in both theory and practice; the societal organization, nee social arrangements, by which executive bureaucracy both executes policy and maintains institutional accountability. Francis Fukuyama, can concept be intuitively correlated vis-a-vis state capacity and quality of good governance?
Tension between accountability and bureaucratic autonomy based on expertise and merit brings to mind the Democratic Dilemma (paradox in democracy) as cited by John W. Gardener – “Vetocracies can stop bad things from happening, but they also don’t provide for much by way of effective action.”
There could be a distinction between at least two measures of a state’s capacity.
First, there is the efficiency of the bureaucrats and the system in which they function. Are their actions free from coercion; what is their level of human capital; do they support of a merit based system? These proponents are reflective of the state employees and the structure of their employment.
But the success of the delivery of services by the state is much more tied to the populace receiving the services than the functioning of state bureaucracy.
For instance, the Chicago public school teachers, state agents responsible for the delivery of education, successfully argued that not only should they be paid a higher than average wage for their labor but that the results of their labor need not score in line with similar delivery systems across the U.S. They argued that the recipients of their services directly impacted their capacity to provide education.
So a state’s capacity is partially determined by the efficiency of the state’s bureaucracy, and partially by the receptiveness of its citizens.
And what determines the population mix in the Chicago school system? Residents evaluate whether they would prefer to forgo income and pay for private schools, or have their children attend public schools. Part of their evaluation undoubtedly considers the potential future earning power of their children based on their education. It appears that those with financial ability, which are also those with human capital, are choosing alternatives to public schools. This leaves a disproportionate group of disadvantaged students in the urban public schools.
So the city’s capacity to educate children has been effected by rational economic choices of its residents.
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An efficient bureaucracy is difficult in the best of times however when it is burdened with a never ending chain of burdensome regulation and executive political manipulation the proper workings of the democratic state are frustrated.
Perhaps the professor should analyze the dimension of sheer size of government as it bears on this issue. The “vetocracies” he dreads arise naturally to thwart the mega-state. Who would bother to develop an elaborate apparatus to challenge a state which limited its activities to legitimate defense and a few public works?
The more resources that a deployed in “government”, it seems axiomatic that the more challengers will arise to influence (at a minimum) how these resources are deployed (or not). The CDC and the Supreme Court don’t use a lot of resources. While the military does, it is generally viewed as an instrument of policy, not a policy-making organ (of course, this is debatable). Large-scale social engineering policy projects are going to be scrutinized, no matter how many so-called “experts” are in charge.
You should talk to Peter Berger… one solution (as suggested by Sweden and Germany) is Lutheranism. 😉
I suggest something very simple….integrity. That is what’s lacking in our elected officials in this day and age. Personal accountability and integrity.
In the US, the voter approval requirements now hinder local government reforms. Meanwhile the economic segregation facilitated by the fragmented system with minimal integration bodes ill for its future in the minority-majority era that started in 2011 (with new majority generation babies). The majority of this group suffers from being from the segment of the population most disadvantaged by the local system and biased state policies.