T02P22 - Process, Performance and Political Legitimacy in Public Policy

Topic : Comparative Public Policy

Panel Chair : Zeger Van der Wal - zvdwal@gmail.com

Panel Second Chair : MIchael Howlett - howlett@sfu.ca

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Note: This Panel is eligible for the GCPSE (UNDP) Grant.

 

 

Policy requires a modicum of legitimacy in order to be effective, which raises the question what makes a policy and the government legitimate. While non-democratic systems have always had uneasy legitimacy, except in the most dictatorial systems where issues of illegitimacy can be simply ignored, this was relatively straightforward for governments elected by universal franchise. But as public trust in governments in a large number of countries around the world have declined in recent years, questions are being asked about what they can do to stem the decline and regain it. A vast literature on “good governance” has emerged emphasizing transparent, accountable, and participatory policy process to bridge the democratic deficit. The assumption of this literature is that such a process would enhance both legitimacy and performance. There is another line of thinking that what matters is performance and outcomes: governments that meet the expectations of their population not only enjoy support of their population but, as a result of the enhanced legitimacy, able to make better policies and implement them more effectively. Are their substantial differences between legitimacy centered on process or performance? What are they? Can a meaningful distinction be made across countries based on their conceptions of legitimacy? The argument is especially pertinent to East Asia where certain countries, including China in recent decades, are said to have flourished due to emphasis on performance rather than adherence to principles of good governance.

Call for papers

Policy requires a modicum of legitimacy in order to be effective, which raises the question what makes a policy and the government legitimate. While non-democratic systems have always had uneasy legitimacy, except in the most dictatorial systems where issues of illegitimacy can be simply ignored, this was relatively straightforward for governments elected by universal franchise. But as public trust in governments in a large number of countries around the world have declined in recent years, questions are being asked about what they can do to stem the decline and regain it. A vast literature on “good governance” has emerged emphasizing transparent, accountable, and participatory policy process to bridge the democratic deficit. The assumption of this literature is that such a process would enhance both legitimacy and performance. There is another line of thinking that what matters is performance and outcomes: governments that meet the expectations of their population not only enjoy support of their population but, as a result of the enhanced legitimacy, able to make better policies and implement them more effectively. Are their substantial differences between legitimacy centered on process or performance? What are they? Can a meaningful distinction be made across countries based on their conceptions of legitimacy? The argument is especially pertinent to East Asia where certain countries, including China in recent decades, are said to have flourished due to emphasis on performance rather than adherence to principles of good governance.

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