T10P01 - Power, Communication and Legitimacy: Challenges, Choices, and Opportunities in Contemporary Policy-Making

Topic : Methodologies

Panel Chair : Loo-See Beh - lucybeh@um.edu.my

Panel Second Chair : Volker Schneider - volker.schneider@uni-konstanz.de

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1

Thursday, June 29th 10:30 to 12:30 (Block B 5 - 3 )


Policy Networks as Power Structures

Volker Schneider - volker.schneider@uni-konstanz.de - University of Konstanz - Germany

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Public policy-making in mainstream policy analysis is often reduced to problem-solving or information processing in state intervention. In such a perspective depoliticized technocratic views and pure efficiency criteria often dominate at the expense of the political dimension of societal problem-processing, and issues of conflict-resolution. In this perspective, critical questions with regard social differentiation, power structures, and democratic deficits get easily dismissed. But the blindness to the power dimension is not a general feature of the policy studies, at least not in the domain of policy network analysis. Important network studies in political sociology and political science were particularly inspired by sociological power structure research. During the 1970s and 1980s many studies tried to uncover relations of power, domination, and social differentiation by new techniques of structural and relational analysis. Their aim was to unveil elite circles and inner cores to reveal political inequalities, political closure and democratic shortcomings.

This paper aims to rejuvenate the power structure perspective of political sociology in its application to policy-making. Drawing from social network analysis, the paper will expose and outline major concepts and empirical applications, and will demonstrate their fruitfulness in an application to climate policy making in Germany. Germany's network in the climate policy domain is depicted at the same time as a distributed information processing system, and as a power configuration based on specific political-institutional and political-economical structures.


State Capacity and Legitimacy: Challenges in Policy-making and Contemporary Developments in Malaysia

Loo-See Beh - lucybeh@um.edu.my - University of Malaya - Malaysia

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The policy discourse as evidenced by mainly economic and political factors suggest that the state or government struggles to maintain control and attempts to consolidate power often through coercion and force in developing countries. Studies have shown the evidences of direct relationships between institutional trust and democratic legitimacy and theoretical traditions (cultural theories, theories of government performance and institutional theories) provide perspectives on how trust is developed in institutions. The problems of governance today are the repercussions of poor management of public resources and failure in policy implementation by leaders and executives who lack commitment, integrity and the relevant knowledge. As Malaysia makes its way to be a developed nation, the aspect of nation building should not just be about making the country economically and politically strong but includes the creation of a united and resilient society. Policymakers must be able to manage these diversities and leverage upon the cultural and ethnic plurality to become pillars of strength in building a better nation. This paper will evaluate the ecology of power relations, ideological orientation, service delivery, pertinent policies and institutional quality in pursuing its legitimacy in state capacity in Malaysia.


Air-Pollution and the Korean Public: Understanding the Effects of Responsibility-Attribution and Emphasis Frames

Matthew Shapiro - shapiro@iit.edu - Illinois Institute of Technology - United States

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Existing research has shown that the Korean media attributes airborne pollution inconsistently to air pollution blowing in from China. This paper assesses these varying messages by conducting a framing effects study of the Korean public. As a communicative process, framing involves making salient certain considerations as a way to simplify or shape the way that an audience understands a particular problem and its potential solutions. Frames related to the effects and potential solutions for air pollution-related issues can be employed strategically by various actors in an effort to shape public opinion and public policy. The frames that have emerged in public discourse (e.g., media coverage) on air pollution will ultimately determine the considerations that are available, accessible, and applicable when individuals think about aspects of the issue. They are simultaneously strategic devices that communicators employ to influence or persuade audiences to think about a problem in a particular way. We are thus faced here with the dual tasks of discerning both framing effects as well as framing strategies. At the center of this research project is the following concerns: How do attribution frames, emphasis frames, or a combination of the two affect the following with regard to transboundary air pollution: attributing responsibility, engaging China in more effective dialogue, establishing agency, and changing views about personal health and political choices? As a preface, updates to media reporting will be presented, utilizing an established tool provided by the National Informatization Agency. This search tool, affiliated with the Korean central government, summarizes all news articles, social media, and online blog posts from approximately 300 Korean news companies. The framing effects study of the Korean public will be based on several different framing treatments. We will examine variance across attributions of responsibility by altering whether China is solely to blame or whether China is a pollution haven, i.e. that Korea and other countries set up manufacturing centers in China to take advantage of lower labor costs and looser environmental standards. We will test for emphasis-framing effects by focusing on increased future impacts, i.e. that the subsequent year will see increased days of hazardous air pollution blowing in from China. This survey will be launched in March/April 2017 when the air pollution is expected to be most severe. We expect that emphasis frames will have the greatest effect on changing views about personal health and political choices as people recognize that the problem will become more severe. The same logic applies to our expectation that there will be a greater call for engagement with China over this issue. Attribution frames will primarily impact how the public identifies who is responsible as well as establishing agency.



Building State Capacity and Executive Governance: the case of Center of Government framework

Pedro Cavalcante - cavalcante.pedro@gmail.com - University of Columbia - United States

RICARDO ANTÔNIO DE KARAM - rskaram@hotmail.com - IPEA/BRASIL - Brazil

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The paper’s main goal is to analyze the institutional framework and performance of the Center of Government (CoG) in the Brazilian executive branch. The objective is to go beyond the description of formal institutions to advance on the CoG actual performance in order to assess its effectiveness during the recent democratic period in Brazil (1995-2014).

The Center of Government, in general terms, is the support structure for the highest level of the executive branch that is seen as the steering wheel of government, responsible for driving forward its priority objectives in a coherent way. Governments are facing a set of critical policy challenges that include constant economic, political, social and technological changes in a more globalized and networked world, constrained by rising citizen expectations on improvements in delivery of public services, multidimensional problems and tight budgets. In that sense, the CoG exercises its main tasks (strategic management, monitoring and improving performance, coordinating policy, managing the politics of policies and communication) in order to ensure coherent responses to this complex scenario.

Given its key role to understand how the executive governance functions and, consequently, its policy results, the interest among policymakers, practitioners, and scholars has grown. Even though its importance is universal, encompassing both parliamentary and presidential systems, there is still limited research and evidence regarding the work and the impact of CoGs, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

In Brazil, constituent aspects of the political-institutional environment, such as coalition presidentialism, federalism, multi-party system, highly decentralized policy implementation, new regulatory agencies and empowerment of internal and external control system; generate a centrifugal effect that challenges the state capacity to coordinate the policymaking and to achieve a proper political articulation with key stakeholders inside and outside government. After 1988 Federal Constitution, social participation in the policymaking has become mandatory which is definitely an additional complicating factor to the executive governance.

Considering the importance of CoG to the executive branch and the complexity of the Brazilian institutional environment, the paper, first, employs content analysis to explore the formal structure, instruments and resources available to the Center of Government to develop its tasks. Subsequently, the inquiry, grounded on the new institutionalism theory, focuses the investigation on informal institutions, in broad sense, the actual rules of the game. Based on interviews with top officials, the research address to the following questions: What are the real structures, instruments and resources (formal and informal) that combined have worked in the Brazilian CoG? What are the performance outputs for different patterns of CoG framework?

Addressing to this original subject, we strongly believe that the exploratory research may contribute to the improvement of the state’s capacity in implementing its political and policy agenda and, hence, facing the need for optimize government legitimacy and democratic institutions. In this sense, it provides theoretical and empirical-based insights to face the problem of legitimacy, which, after all, can act as a brake on the ability to govern effectively.


State capacities and public policy implementation: a proposal for an integrated framework of analysis

Marizaura Camões - marizaurareis@gmail.com - National School of Public Administration - Brazil

CIRO FERNANDES - ciro.fernandes@uol.com.br - National School of Public Administration - Brazil

Natalia Koga - natalia.koga@enap.gov.br - Enap - National School of Public Administration - Brazil

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The complexity of the problems, solutions and institutional arrangements for implementing public policies has a significant importance for the performance and legitimacy of governments. This investigation argues that the state capacity approach allows a structured analysis of the governmental conditions, obstacles and potentialities for the formulation and implementation of public policies. Moreover, the analysis of state capacities provides elements for the identification of deficits in the types of capacities accumulation and the diagnosis of  necessities of structures, processes, norms and personnel training.

The present study looked for identifying relevant dimensions and variables for the analysis of the state capacity in the Brazilian federal government.  The research is based on a bibliographical survey and resulted in the elaboration of a comprehensive  analytical framework for the identification and evaluation of levels and patterns of accumulation and distribution of state capacities among government agencies, areas and programs. The framework assumes that different levels of accumulation can be explained by political, institutional and organizational aspects that permeate government´s action in concrete situations of public policy implementation.

In this sense, it is argued that the concept of state capacity allows articulating this diversity of dimensions and levels of governmental performance. The preliminary analysis indicates that state capacities can be observed from four perspectives: administrative, internal coordination, political-relational and autonomy. Administrative capacity is understood as that related to the internal operating conditions of the State apparatus. The internal coordination capacity relates to the conditions that promote cohesion and internal coherence of the state action. Political-relational capacity, in turn, corresponds to the intensity and quality of interaction between the state and the external environment, that is, civil society, the legislative and judicial branches, and international organizations. Finally,  autonomy refers to the conditions that guarantee the implementation of policies protected from its capture by particularistic interests within an environment in which administrative operation and coordination as well as proper relationship with the external environment are well established.

Accordingly, the administrative capacity relates to the field of effectiveness; the coordination capacity  corresponds to the field of state agency; the political-relational capacity refers to the legitimacy field and, finally, autonomy consists of a capacity which is not only conditioned by the other three capacities but also conditions them.

The  analytical framework proposed in this investigation will be applied as the main tool for a general diagnosis of capabilities comparing agencies, areas and programs not only in  the Brazilian federal government but also for the municipal and state governments. It is also considered that its application can be extended in some level for countries comparisons in the future.

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