Global Policy Advisory Systems – Patterns, Trajectories and Impacts
A recently awarded SSHRC research project
This page describes a research project funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), led by Atlas co-editor Leslie A. Pal. The project, entitled Global Policy Advisory Systems – Patterns, Trajectories and Impacts, builds in some respects on an earlier SSHRC-funded project described at Best Practices in Public Management.
The description of the project (from Leslie Pal’s submission) follows.
“Rulers need advice, and all complex states have developed advisory systems of one sort or another (Goldhamer, 1978). The ancient tradition was one of “mirrors for princes” (Born, 1928; Boroujerdi, 2013; Erasmus, 1997; Machiavelli, 1985), but the modern state has had to go “beyond Machiavelli” (Radin, 2013) in designing its advisory systems. These “interlocked set of actors” providing advice (Craft, 2016: 12) reflected the postwar development of the “policy sciences” (Brewer, 1974; deLeon, 1988, 2006; Mintrom & Williams, 2013). This development assumed that advisory systems “speak truth to power” (Wildavsky, 1979), and that if well-designed (Painter & Pierre, 2005), they will enhance policy capacity and ultimately produce better social outcomes (Howlett, 2013).
“Remarkably, another key assumption has been that policy advisory systems are almost entirely domestic – internal to government, they consist of cabinet and ministerial offices, and some special purpose agencies; external to government, they consist of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), think tanks, lobbyists, etc. Early work on advisory systems occasionally acknowledged transnational pathways, but as an afterthought (Halligan, 1995: 156-58; Weaver & Stares, 2001: 27). Contemporary research largely overlooks them. However, policy ideas and models are increasingly generated at the global level in international governmental organizations (IGOs) such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or United Nations (UN) Commissions, becoming a resource for domestic policy makers through policy transfer and diffusion (Benson & Jordan, 2011; De Francesco, 2013; Dolowitz & Marsh, 1996, 2000; Peck & Theodore, 2015). Almost every domestic policy field is wired into international law, resolutions, conventions, or agreements, and so domestic policy advice is almost always coloured by that global connection.
“The issue has been addressed from other directions. One has been the study of transnational policy actors, including both IGOs as well as the wider range of international NGOs, advocacy organizations, foundations, think tanks, and consultants (Coleman, 2012; Djelic & Sahlin-Andersson, 2006; Haas, 1992; Stone, 2002, 2004, 2013). Another has been the work of international relations scholars who have highlighted the autonomous capacity and policy impact of IGOs (Barnett & Finnemore, 2004; Busch, 2014; Kaasch & Martens, 2015; Mathiason, 2007). However, most of this work consists of case studies of single organizations or actors, missing the emergence of systems or networks of on-going activity. There are exceptions: Slaughter’s early work on governance networks (Slaughter, 2004), Keck and Sikkink on advocacy networks (Keck & Sikkink, 1998), the EU as a policy transfer theatre (Börzel & Risse, 2012; Cowles, Caporaso, & Risse, 2001; Delcour, 2011; Leuffen, Rittberger, & Schimmelfennig, 2013), the newly emerging work on transnational public administration (Stone & Ladi, 2015), and regime complexes and IGOs as “orchestrators” (Abbott, Genschel, Snidal, & Zangl, 2015; Keohane & Victor, 2011). However, none of this work has specifically isolated the existence and dynamics of global policy advisory systems (GPAS) as such, or their connection and impact to domestic advisory systems. This research will do precisely that through: (1) the development of a comprehensive analytical database, (2) detailed case studies, and (3) analysis of GPAS linkages to domestic policy processes. It promises to change the way we think about policy advice, and possibly illuminate new skills and tools needed by policy makers. It will also help re-conceptualize public administration as a set of practices that are increasingly integrated across global and domestic levels.
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Stone, D. (2013). Knowledge Actors and Transnational Governance: The Private-Public Nexus in the Global Agora. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 3 June 2017.
Image: Global Advice, LLC, at http://freestyle.globaladvicellc.com/, accessed 3 June 2017.