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Between 1985 and 2018, Brazilian economic well-being stagnated, with lackluster growth and regressive public policies destroying citizens’ life opportunities. There is considerable consensus about the sources of this low-level economic equilibrium, including low savings, low investment, and modest human capital improvements. Despite this consensus, and despite decades of reform, however, the overall institutional equilibrium changed only marginally. Drawing on the study of varieties of capitalism, this chapter describes how institutional complementarities drove actors’ incentives toward a collectively suboptimal equilibrium. Complementarities within and across five domains sustained the equilibrium: 1) the macroeconomy of a middle-income developmental state, 2) the microeconomy of firm organization; 3) the coalitional presidential political system; 4) the weak control mechanisms this political system set in place; and 5) an autonomous bureaucracy that permitted incremental reform but in consequence, may have moderated demands for more dramatic reforms while deepening fiscal constraints and impelling policymakers to preserve the tool kit of the developmental state.
Chapter 2 introduces a two-stage theory of institutional continuity and reform, laying out how societal preferences over the distribution of protection and repression shape politicians’ decisions between the status quo of authoritarian coercion and reform to promote democratic coercion. Far from constituting a failure of democratic processes, politicians’ decisions to either maintain the status quo of authoritarian coercion or undertake police reform both result from ordinary democratic politics. I argue that, even under the constraints posed by the structural power of police, shifts in the convergence of societal preferences over policing and security and a robust political opposition can serve as key drivers of reform by raising the costs to the incumbent of not reforming the police. The theory yields two key predictions. When societal preferences over policing and security are fragmented, politicians have incentives to pursue accommodation with the police, wherein they grant police greater autonomy in exchange for cooperation in the selective distribution of coercion. This favors the persistence of institutional weakness and authoritarian patterns of coercion. On the other hand, incumbents are likely to pursue democratic police reform when societal preferences converge and when they face an electoral threat from a robust political opposition.
Because gender equality actors rarely have sufficient power to create new institutions, this article asks how they can achieve positive gender change in constrained circumstances when the creation of new rules is not possible. Building on a feminist institutionalist approach to analyzing gendered institutional dynamics, power, and resistance, we open the “black box” of one executive: Michelle Bachelet’s first presidency in Chile (2006–10). Using theory-guided process tracing and primarily qualitative data, we examine key reforms in three policy areas—health, pensions, and childcare—that were central to Bachelet’s first program. By analyzing how efforts to incorporate positive gender change fared differently in each area, this study shows how far utilizing, subverting, or converting existing rules—more “hidden” forms of change, often away from legislatures—can be effective, if limited, strategies when gender equality advocates face resistance.
This article analyses the inherent conflict between public and private interest from a long time-perspective, using the example of Sweden from 1620 to 2000. The main argument is that there have been two equally decisive historical shifts in the political discourse on how to organize public services in the past: First, a shift from an early modern patriarchal discourse to a more expansive articulation of publicness during the nineteenth century. Second, a shift toward privatization and deregulation in the late twentieth century. Both these shifts must be considered to fully explain the changing forms of public organization up to the present day. Theoretically, the concept of “publicness” is used to explain the political discourses on the organization of public services. Drawing on three discursive chains, the argument is that the political development was affected by the politicians’ conception of the political community, the form of organization, and by perceptions of values such as equal access and modernity. Our results demonstrate how and why political arguments for or against private service providers have motivated profound changes in the way public services are perceived of and organized.
In the last 30 years, Local Governments all over Europe experienced an intense season of institutional change of unprecedented width and intensity. This paper focuses on a neglected type of institutional change, a more indirect one – here labeled oblique-change – that however strongly influences the overall LG institutional change and local autonomy. Taking 2012 as the climax of the austerity period in Europe and Italy as a pilot case for future comparisons, this article shows that oblique-change matters to a considerable extent, and that it is much more frequent and highly impacting than expected. Moreover, it argues that bradyseismic adjustments provoked by oblique-change may turn out in an equally profound change of the local government's asset, as that induced by major reforms.
The selection process leading to the appointment of Antonio Guterres as Secretary-General of the United Nations gave way to unprecedented practices in world politics, such as public hearings with candidates. A textbook case of what historical institutionalism calls “layering,” this episode of institutional development features intriguing puzzles, including its timing, form, and limits. Drawing on historical institutionalism and practice theory, I develop a “pulling” theory of agency that complements intentionalist accounts. The webs of practices that agents find themselves in afford certain actions over others, orienting the push of interests. I infer three mechanisms—relational crossover, competence transfers, and pushback—and show how a set of nine practices, available at the UN in 2015–2016 but not in earlier episodes, account for the specifics of the recent renewal of the Secretary-General's selection procedure. A full explanation of this critical case of institutional change is impossible without understanding how agents struggled with one another under the pull of the UN web of practices, affording some innovations but not others.
As emerging powers rise and established powers decline, international institutions come under pressure to adjust to new power realities. When and how do international institutions adapt to underlying global power shifts? We propose an (institutionalist) theory of strategic co-optation that differs from both (realist) accommodationist and (liberal) integrationist theories. Drawing on isolated treatments of strategic co-optation from other domains – domestic and international, autocratic and democratic, past and present – we develop a theory of strategic co-optation as a mode of institutional adaption to shifts in the global distribution of power. The theory specifies the concept, the conditions and the (unintended) consequences of strategic co-optation. We conceptualize co-optation as a specific form of adaptation where established powers trade institutional privileges for emerging powers' institutional support. We theorize the conditions under which emerging and established powers are (more or less) likely to strike a co-optation deal. In addition, we identify endogenous dynamics that may render co-optation precarious and thus subject to instabilities. While the ambition of this paper is primarily theoretical, we provide various empirical illustrations of how strategic co-optation is used to adapt international institutions to contemporary shifts in the global distribution of power.
Since the early discussions of polycentricity, the concept (and variations such as polycentric political systems, polycentric governance, polycentric order, etc.) has seen the development of numerous permutations, digressions, and contradictions. This chapter is meant to carefully step through key notions tied to polycentricity and polycentric governance. The chapter’s purpose is to discuss polycentric governance in particular, while giving some attention to polycentricity as a term from which polycentric governance originates. We build upon the classic version of polycentric governance as a 'polycentric political system', link this concept with broader conceptualizations of polycentricity, and survey the related ideas that have been investigated around the concepts of polycentric political systems, polycentric order, polycentric governance, and polycentric arrangements.
Polycentric governance has emergent properties that we argue can be explained through an analysis of the dynamics of institutional change. In this chapter, we use institutional change theories and evolutionary and complex adaptive systems (CAS) thinking to trace mechanisms observed in the change and emergence of polycentric governance. We offer an explanatory model of how polycentric governance changes. Particularly, we consider institutional change of polycentric governance to be negotiated in interdependent (networks of) action situations. Change (or emergence) of governance is the result of endogenous changes (e.g. in power resources actors hold) and/ or of exogenous drivers such as technological change. Polycentric governance shares characteristics with Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) whose change is evolutionary. We highlight the particular difficulties this perspective entails for assessing institutional performance. We illustrate the evolution of polycentric governance arrangements through two vignettes summarizing case study material from Kenya and Mexico.
The historical development of rules of debate in the UK House of Commons raises an important puzzle: why do members of parliament (MPs) impose limits on their own rights? Despite a growing interest in British Political Development and the institutional changes of nineteenth-century UK politics, the academic literature has remained largely silent on this topic. Three competing explanations have emerged in studies of the US Congress, focusing on efficiency, partisan forces and non-partisan (or: ideology-based) accounts. This article falls broadly into the third category, offering a consensus-oriented explanation of the historical development of parliamentary rules. Working from a new dataset on the reform of standing orders in the House of Commons over a 205-year period (1811–2015), as well as records of over six million speeches, the author argues that MPs commit more quickly to passing restrictive rules in the face of obstruction when legislator preferences are proximate within both the opposition and government, and when polarization between both sides of the aisle is low. The research represents, to the author's knowledge, the first systematic and directional test of a range of competing theories of UK parliamentary reform, shedding light on the process of parliamentary reform over a prolonged period of Commons history, and advancing several new measures of polarization in the UK House of Commons.
This chapter pulls together the discussions in the monograph and summarizes and categorizes all the research propositions developed in the previous chapters. It then demarcates the charateristics that are unique to family firms and those that are more likely in family firms in making such firms have a greater propensity to undertake patient long-term investments in developing proactive environmental strategies. It then deveops a framework showing how appying the family business lens changes what we know about drivers and influences of proactive environmental strategy and how non-family firms can learn from family firms to undertake patient capital investments in addressing sustainability challenges. The chapter concludes with avenues for future research and measure development, for business education, and for public policy.
One of the main objections against effective altruism (EA) is the so-called institutional critique, according to which the EA movement neglects interventions that affect large-scale institutions. Alexander Dietz has recently put forward an interesting version of this critique, based on a theoretical problem affecting act-utilitarianism, which he deems as potentially conclusive against effective altruism. In this article I argue that his critique is not as promising as it seems. I then go on to propose another version of the institutional critique. In contrast to Dietz's version, it targets not the core principles of effective altruism but rather some important methodological assumptions made in EA research, namely diminishing marginal returns and low-hanging fruits. One key conclusion is that it may be time for critics of effective altruism to shift their attention from the theoretical core principles of effective altruism towards the methodological tools actually employed in practice by the EA movement.
How do regulators regulate with metrics? This article offers a rhetorical approach to this question, using early U.S. securities regulation as a case in point, and reliance on credit ratings as empirical illustration. A rhetorical approach challenges economists’ claim that metrics are limited to providing technical guidance to policy formation: the fact is that the role of metrics in regulation can be appreciated only if technical and social aspects are considered together. A rhetorical perspective also fills an important gap in sociological studies of “co-production” that claim that procedural deliberation enhances the legitimacy of regulation but underemphasize the role of quantification when procedural rules are lacking. This article suggests that rhetoric is not suboptimal or irrational but a vital form of deliberation in contexts of uncertainty, when decision-making requires some amount of persuasion outside a procedural context. I observe that metrics can be a powerful vehicle of rhetorical change. Two components of rhetorical metrics are highlighted. First are cognitive clutches, or the capacity to shift prevailing models of attention. Second are actionable arguments, the capacity to embed cognitive deviance into a compelling argument for change. I conclude with reflections on the legacy of rhetorical decisions on current policy debates.
This article will situate public debates about – and experiments in features of – basic income within European countries in the context of welfare state crisis and change. Treating access to basic income security as a policy problem, I argue basic income policy debate highlights the need for multi-level and multifactorial analysis of public governance capacity as a key factor in driving the relationship of basic income with welfare state transformation. Drawing on the cases within this themed section, I attempt to tease out what comparatively are long-run conditions for basic income within state and society, and what are the political and institutional trade-offs at the current juncture. Exploring contributing determinants of governance corrosion and adaptation of public economic security structures under globalisation contributes to deepen our understanding of contemporary patterns of institutional change.
Despite historic increases in crime and violence, Latin America’s police forces are characterized by long periods of institutional weakness punctuated by rare, sweeping reforms. To understand these patterns of institutional continuity and change, the author applies the concept of structural power, demonstrating how police leverage their control of coercion to constrain the policy options available to politicians. Within this constrained policy space, politicians choosing between continuity and reform assess societal preferences for police reform and patterns of political competition. Under fragmented societal preferences, irrespective of political competition, reform brings little electoral gain and risks alienating a powerful bureaucracy. Preference fragmentation thus favors the persistence of institutional weakness. When societal preferences converge and a robust political opposition threatens incumbents, politicians face an electoral counterweight to the structural power of police, making reform likely. Using evidence from periods of continuity and reform in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia, the author traces both outcomes to shifts in societal preferences and political opposition. Despite the imperative to address citizens’ demands by building state capacity in security provision, these cases show that police reform is often rendered electorally disadvantageous.
Because of its early positive assessments, participatory budgeting (PB) has been and continues to be praised by several policymakers, and the Brazilian model has become an institutional blueprint around the world. No one questions the way the model has evolved in Brazilian municipalities with a long tradition of PB, but it was institutionalized there through practice and not through state legislation. It is thus highly permeable to political will and evolving ideas. Looking at the case of Belo Horizonte, where it was implemented in 1993, this study argues that while the political rhetoric of PB has remained central to political discourse over time, a significant but gradual policy change has occurred in practice. This change has important implications: not only does it have an impact on the policy outcomes of PB, but it also contributes to delegitimating the process for its participants, abetting its gradual deinstitutionalization.
Historical institutionalist research has long struggled to come to terms with agency. Yet injecting agency into historical-institutionalist accounts is no easy task. If institutions are structuring agents’ actions, while they are simultaneously being structured by these very agents’ behavior, the ontological status of institutions remains unclear. Hence, most historical-institutional accounts, at the conceptual level, tend to downplay the role of agency. However, in this way, they also remain incomplete. Following the “coalitional turn” in historical institutionalism, we develop a new account of institutional change and stability that awards a central role to agency. At the heart of our approach is the notion that both stability and change in institutions presuppose constant coalition building by organized entrepreneurial actors. However, for several reasons, such coalition building is complicated, which ultimately leads to institutional stability. In addition, we argue that relevant state agencies actively shape whether the incumbent coalition or the challenger coalition prevails. We illustrate the potential of our actor-centered approach to institutional change by analyzing the reform of commercial training in Switzerland, tracing developments from the beginning of the 1980s until today.
Since 2015 rights-based NGOs, lawyers, feminists and journalists have endured the most stringent crackdown since 1989. Simultaneously the Xi Li administration has pushed forward a series of laws, policies and regulatory changes to enable service-oriented NGOs to apply for government contracts to provide welfare services. This seemingly Janus-like policy of welfarist incorporation can be traced back to the Hu–Wen period, often described as a lacklustre period, despite significant efforts to tackle issues of poverty and inequality. This article argues for a more balanced appraisal of this period by exploring in depth the complex politics underpinning efforts to pluralize welfare provision by involving service-oriented NGOs. It explores three sets of politics influencing this policy process: inter-institutional politics; state/non-state actor politics; and domestic/external politics. Furthermore, it considers processes of gradual institutional change adopted by key political actors to achieve these ends.
Ambiguity – the capacity to have multiple meanings – is endemic to politics. Ambiguity creates political opportunities, structures debates and provides leeway for political entrepreneurs to advance their interests. I use the 2012 passage and 2014 rollback of reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program to show how ambiguity enables political entrepreneurship. In this puzzling case, Congress enacted and rolled back changes that threatened to impose politically unpalatable costs. Using semi-structured interviews and congressional testimony, I show how political entrepreneurs engaged with ambiguity in the buildup to the reforms’ passage. They used information strategically to interpret problems, solutions, rules, and goals; shape legislators’ perceptions of the reforms’ political implications; and adapt their arguments to the policy windows that opened. The case shows that ambiguity facilitates policy reform, but the direction of change depends on the priorities that are salient when a policy window opens and on the interests of political entrepreneurs.
Urbanization and the development of middle and working classes have been proposed as a key explanation for political change in the Western world. This article argues that the traditional inheritance systems practiced across Europe have played an important role in the differential development of these urban classes in the period 1700–1900. Inheritance systems that practice some degree of inequality between heirs will lead to more children, generally younger brothers, leaving the land and taking up urban occupations. A statistical analysis of geographical data shows that regions in which such unequal inheritance was practiced were two to three times more likely to develop urban areas after 1700. This claim is robust to a number of challenges, including country fixed effects, and to only looking at Western Europe. An important mechanism through which the divergence may have occurred is illustrated through a quantitative analysis of pairs of brothers in the UK and Romania, two countries with opposing inheritance traditions.