The Study of Governance and Institutions

… a core topic in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100

LibraryOfPar

Library of Parliament, Ottawa

Topic description

This topic introduces students to the major schools of thought and conceptual frameworks pertaining to governance in democratic societies and their institutions.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will recognize the existence of major schools of thought pertaining to governance in democratic societies and their institutions and be familiar with the definitional concepts listed below.

Core concepts associated with this topic
Institutions

Governance

Government

State

Democracy

Competing Values in Governance and Institutions

Institutional Theories – Historical, Sociological, and New Institutionalism

Public Interest

Public Administration

Public Management

Open access readings for 8 hours of preparation

The Atlas pages for the concept entries noted above.

Policy Profession – Skills and Knowledge Framework, UK Civil Service Learning, accessed 28 August 2016, at https://civilservicelearning.civilservice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/policy_profession_skills_and_knowledge_framework_jan2013web.pdf, accessed 28 August 2016.

Mel Cappe (2016), What is Public Policy – Definitions, Process, Institutions, People, Governance and Federal/Provincial Relations, Presentation to SPPG Orientation, 7 September 2016, at http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Cappe-What-Is-Public-Policy-Orientation-2016.pdf, accessed 21 August 2016.

Jonathan Kates (2016), The Rise of the Post-Factual Democracy: A Look at Brexit, Public Policy and Governance Review, 4 July 2016, at https://ppgreview.ca/2016/07/04/the-rise-of-the-post-factual-democracy-a-look-at-brexit/, accessed 30 August 2016.

Laura Haché (2014), The Limits of Evidence-Based Policy-Making, Public Policy and Governance Review, 24 August 2014, at https://ppgreview.ca/2014/08/28/opinion-the-limits-of-evidence-based-policy-making/, accessed 30 August 2016.

Laura Payton (2016), The A-Team of wonks in the Trudeau government, Policy Options, 28 April 2016, at http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2016/the-a-team-of-wonks-in-the-trudeau-government/, accessed 30 August 2016.

Susan Delacourt (2016), How policy is being made under the new Liberal government, Policy Options, 26 April 2016, at http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2016/how-policy-is-being-made-under-the-new-liberal-government/, accessed 30 August 2016.

Ian Bremmer (2011), Searching the World for Good Governance, New York Times, 27 November 2011, at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/opinion/28iht-edbremmer28.html, accessed 30 August 2016.

Candace Smith (2012), A Brief Examination of Neoliberalism and Its Consequences, The Society Pages, Sociology Lens, 2 October 2012, at https://thesocietypages.org/sociologylens/2012/10/02/a-brief-examination-of-neoliberalism-and-its-consequences/, accessed 1 September 2016.

Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses

Toronto PPG1000 Governance and Institutions

Bevir, Mark. 2012. “What is Governance,” in Governance: A Very Short Introduction, pp. 1-15. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Atkinson, Michael. 1993. Excerpt from Governing Canada: Institutions and Public Policy, pp. 5-10. Toronto: Harcourt, Brace and Co.

Concept comprehension questions

AQ100.01.01. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term institution choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. An institution is a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture.

b. An institution is a physical structure with a meaningful history.

c. An institution is a configuration or network of organizational capabilities (assemblies of personal, material, symbolic, and informational resources available for collective action) that is deployed according to rules and norms that structure individual participation, govern appropriate behaviour, and limit the range of acceptable outcomes.

d. An institution is a society or organization founded for a religious, educational, social, or similar purpose.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.02. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term governance choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Governance means decision making in a sovereign state.

b. Governance encompasses all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market, or network, whether over a family, tribe, formal or informal organization, or territory, and whether through laws, norms, power, or language.

c. The use of the term governance is associated with a shift from hierarchy to markets and networks.

d. Governance refers to the processes and interactions through which highly diverse social interests and actors produce the policies, practices, and effects of governing.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.03. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term government choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The government is the group of people who control and make decisions for a country or state.

b. Government is the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy of the state.

c. Government refers to the processes and interactions through which highly diverse social interests and actors produce the policies, practices, and effects of governing.

d. Government refers to the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.04. Among statements a-d pertaining to the distinction between a government and governance choose the one that is the most valid or choose e if none is valid.

a. Government refers to the way that cities, countries, or companies are run; governance refers to the power and structure.

b. Government refers to the group of people who control and make decisions for a country or state; governance refers to the processes and interactions through which diverse social interests and actors produce the policies, practices, and effects of governing.

c. There is almost no distinction between government and governance; they are used interchangeably.

d. Governance refers to the groups and people responsible for decision-making in a country; government refers to the methods in which people use to run a country.

e. None of a-d is a valid statement.

AQ100.01.05. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term state choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. A state exists where there is a government able to speak with a coherent voice.

b. A state is a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory.

c. A state refers to the collection of political institutions that together comprise a system of order that claims a monopoly on the exercise of coercive power and the authority to issue determinations that are binding on all of those living within a prescribed territory.

d. A state is a single institution that acts with a coherent purpose in times of national crisis but is normally united only in the abstract because its constituent institutions operate to create, consolidate, divide, exercise, and adjudicate public authority.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.06. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term democracy choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Democracy requires consulting the people directly in processes such as referendums and acting on those consultations.

b. Democracy is a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting.

c. Democracy is a political system where all eligible citizens have the right to participate, either directly or indirectly, in making the decisions that affect them.

d. Democracy is a method of group decision making characterized by a kind of equality among the participants at an essential stage of the collective decision making.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.07. The design and evolution of institutions and their governance are influenced by myriad values and objectives, many of which are in tension. Among the pairs listed in a-d choose the one least in tension or choose e if none are in tension.

a. Equity – Efficiency

b. Initiative – Effectiveness

c. Impartiality – Discretion

d. Equality – Merit

e. In none of the pairs is there substantial tension.

AQ100.01.08. Since the 1970s the study of public institutions has increasingly opened up to contributions from other social sciences such as history, political science and sociology of organizations, becoming less normative and more empirical. Among statements a-d pertaining to institutional theory choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Historical institutionalism considers that outcomes of public policies do not just reflect the preferences or interests of the strongest social forces but are also channeled by existing and past arrangements such that policy choices made in the past shape choices made today.

b. Sociological institutionalism defines institutionalism broadly to include symbols and cognitive schemes that model the sense people give to events and make institutionalized myths central to explanation.

c. New institutionalism questions how far organized action can be planned (the product of design or authoritarian will), and to what degree some public order is achievable in pluralistic societies where public institutions may experience a large degree of autonomy and follow logics of their own, independently of outside influences or requirements.

d. Postmodern institutionalism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward traditional institutions, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as distrust of notions of rationality, human nature, and progress.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.09. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term neoliberalism choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Neoliberalism refers to the recent wave of social liberal consciousness that focuses on the advancement of underprivileged and underrepresented groups.

b. Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector.

c. Neoliberalism refers to the upspring of 19th century ideas connected to economic liberalism that support fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, privatization, and greatly reduced government spending.

d. Neoliberalism is a set of ideas centred on laissez-faire capitalism and is associated with the writings of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.10. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term interests choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Interests are changes that affect one advantageously or disadvantageously.

b. Interests are wants.

c. Interests are attitudes shared by groups of people.

d. Interests are claims or demands.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.11. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term public interest choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Public interest is the amount owed each year on the public debt of a government.

b. Public interest is the benefit or advantage of the community as a whole.

c. Public interest is the welfare of the general public in which the whole society has a stake and which warrants recognition, promotion, and protection by the government and its agencies.

d. Public interest is a common concern among citizens in the management and affairs of local, state, and national government. 

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.12. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term public administration choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Public administration is a branch of political science dealing primarily with the structure and workings of agencies charged with the administration of governmental functions.

b. Public administration is making decisions and acting in the public interest.

c. Public administration is the implementation of government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service.

d. Public administration is centrally concerned with the organization of government policies and programs as well as the behavior of officials (usually non-elected) formally responsible for their conduct.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.13. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term public management choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Public management is the work of mobilizing others to accomplish socially useful purposes and advance the public interest.

b. Public management is a nexus where politics, law, and administration necessarily engage each other.

c. Public management means adapting private sector management practices to the public sector.

d. Public management means performing certain tasks related to policy implementation in publicly supported programs.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.14. Among statements a-d pertaining to the term public policy choose one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Public policy is systematically using the state to affect peoples’ lives.

b. Public policy is a course of action or inaction chosen by public authorities to address a given problem or interrelated set of problems.

c. Public policy is a field of education that integrates disciplinary insights from economics, political science, law, statistics, operations research, psychology, with an intellectual spirit best characterized as “compared to what?”

d. Public policy is what government does.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid statements.

AQ100.01.15. Among statements a-d pertaining to the distinction between a public policy and public management choose the one that is the most valid or choose e if none is valid.

a. Public policy refers to the actions or inactions government or public authorities take to address a problem or issue; public management is the work of mobilizing others to accomplish socially useful purposes and advance the public interest.

b. Public management is the system of laws, regulatory measures and courses of actions taken by government; public policies are the decisions made to achieve desired outcomes.

c. Public policy reflects the structures and functions of government; public management is organizing these structures.

d. Public management is the organization of government structure and function; public policy is how the government sets its organization and function.

e. None of a-d is a valid statement.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 2 February 2017.

Image: Ashwin Kumar, Canada Parliament [Ottawa], Library of Parliament, Creative Commons, at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Canadian_Library_of_Parliament_Ottawa.jpg, accessed 3 February 2016.