Publications

    May 2018 

    At the core of the work of the Ash Center and the Kennedy School is the effort to understand how citizens and institutions come together to make democracy work, and rarely before has the importance of this effort been more evident. Underlying the deceptively simple idea of making democracy work are a number of large themes: protecting the fundamental norms of democracy and democratic processes from challenges both in the United States and internationally; encouraging innovation in governance and public accountability; preventing the massive inequalities of our economic system from permeating our democracy and threatening its existence.

    Indeed, one essential element of “making democracy work” in the United States is to have as close to full and inclusive participation of the people who comprise our democracy as we possibly can. The name of our May 3rd symposium, “Getting to 80
    percent,” was chosen with intent; while a goal of 80 percent participation is achievable, it will require a real stretch—not tinkering around the edges of the current system, but instead pursuing a major set of innovative ideas and practices.

    Party Systems in Latin America: Institutionalization, Decay, and Collapse

    Scott Mainwaring, Cambridge University Press, February 2018

    Based on contributions from leading scholars, this study generates a wealth of new empirical information about Latin American party systems. It also contributes richly to major theoretical and comparative debates about the effects of party systems on democratic politics, and about why some party systems are much more stable and predictable than others. Party Systems in Latin America builds on, challenges, and updates Mainwaring and Timothy Scully's seminal Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America (1995), which re-oriented the study of democratic party systems in the developing world. It is essential reading for scholars and students of comparative party systems, democracy, and Latin American politics. It shows that a stable and predictable party system facilitates important democratic processes and outcomes, but that building and maintaining such a party system has been the exception rather than the norm in contemporary Latin America.

     Transparency for Development Team, August 2017

    The Transparency for Development (T4D) study was designed to answer the question of whether a community-led transparency and accountability program can improve health outcomes and community empowerment, and, if so, how and in what contexts. To answer this question, researchers and civil society organization partners began by co-designing a program that would activate community participation to address myriad barriers to proper maternal and newborn care, with the ultimate goal of improving maternal and newborn health outcomes. This report presents the design of the program that was then implemented in 200 villages in Tanzania and Indonesia and studied using a mixed methods impact evaluation. In addition to detailing the program, this report outlines how the project team got there—describing a number of principles that informed some distinguishing features of the program, as well as an iterative design process that defined other features through trial and error.

    Mellon, Jonathan, Hollie Russon Gilman, Fredrik M. Sjoberg, and Tiago Peixoto. 2017. “Gender and Political Mobilization Online: Participation and Policy Success on a Global Petitioning Platform”. Publisher's Version Abstract

    Jonathan Mellon, Hollie Russon Gilman, Fredrik M. Sjoberg, and Tiago Peixoto; July 2017

    As political life moves online, it is important to know whether online political participation excludes certain groups. Using a dataset of 3.9 million signers of online petitions in 132 countries, this paper examines the descriptive success (number of successful petitions) and substantive success (topic of successful petitions) of women and men. Women’s participation is higher than expected in the ‘thin’ action of petition signing, but consistently lower in the ‘thick’ action of petition creation. This paper does not find a link between lower female thick participation and female descriptive success. In terms of substantive success, the paper finds successful petitions reflect female users’ priorities more closely than men’s, independent of the petition initiator’s gender. These results hold both platform-wide and within most countries in the dataset. This paper shows that these results occur due to the low level of petition success (1.2%) on the platform, which increases the importance of thin forms of participation.

    The Fissured Workplace
    Weil, David. 2017. The Fissured Workplace. Harvard University Press, 424. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    David Weil, Harvard University Press, May 2017

    For much of the twentieth century, large companies employing many workers formed the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Today, on the list of big business’s priorities, sustaining the employer-worker relationship ranks far below building a devoted customer base and delivering value to investors. As David Weil’s groundbreaking analysis shows, large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of the people responsible for their products, in favor of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one another. Weil proposes ways to modernize regulatory policies and laws so that employers can meet their obligations to workers while allowing companies to keep the beneficial aspects of this innovative business strategy.

    Social Policy Expansion in Latin America
    Garay, Candelaria. 2017. Social Policy Expansion in Latin America . Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Candelaria Garay, Cambridge University Press, January 2017 

     

    Throughout the twentieth century, much of the population in Latin America lacked access to social protection. Since the 1990s, however, social policy for millions of outsiders - rural, informal, and unemployed workers and dependents - has been expanded dramatically. Social Policy Expansion in Latin America shows that the critical factors driving expansion are electoral competition for the vote of outsiders and social mobilization for policy change. The balance of partisan power and the involvement of social movements in policy design explain cross-national variation in policy models, in terms of benefit levels, coverage, and civil society participation in implementation. The book draws on in-depth case studies of policy making in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico over several administrations and across three policy areas: health care, pensions, and income support. Secondary case studies illustrate how the theory applies to other developing countries.

     

    Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America

    Hollie Russon Gilman, Brookings, 2016 

    Democracy Reinvented is the first comprehensive academic treatment of participatory budgeting in the United States, situating it within a broader trend of civic technology and innovation. This global phenomenon, which has been called “revolutionary civics in action” by the New York Times, started in Brazil in 1989 but came to America only in 2009.  Participatory budgeting empowers citizens to identify community needs, work with elected officials to craft budget proposals, and vote on how to spend public funds.

    John Gastil, June 2016 

    In this paper, John Gastil calls for designers, reformers, and government sponsors to join together to build an integrated online commons, which links together the best existing tools by making them components in a larger “Democracy Machine.” Gastil sketches out design principles and features that would enable this platform to draw new people into the civic sphere, encourage more sustained and deliberative engagement, and send ongoing feedback to both government and citizens to improve how the public interfaces with the public sector.

    Hollie Russon Gilman, January 2016 

    This paper provides a brief overview of the genesis of participatory budgeting and its current incarnations in the United States. It situates the participatory budgeting process within a larger context of civic innovation strategies occurring across America. The paper outlines the institutional challenges and proposes assessment criteria to be considered when implementing civic and social innovations such as participatory budgeting.

    David Dapice, October 2016

    Religious conflict in Rakhine state threatens the development of Rakhine state and even the stability of Myanmar. In the paper, the author reviews recent 2014 census results and other data that show no long-term increase in the modest share of Muslims in the population, debunking the arguments of some extremist groups. The paper makes the case that a focused development program including investment in village scale irrigation, improved farm and financial services, better infrastructure and labor mobility is needed to improve living conditions for all groups and to provide an environment in which mutual trust can gradually be reestablished. Click here to read in Burmese version.

    Political Governance In China
    Saich, Anthony J. 2015. Political Governance In China . Edward Elgar Publishing. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract
    Including key research articles from specialists in the field, this volume provides an introduction and critical insights into the most important debates surrounding the governance of contemporary China. The material will enable readers to understand how China is ruled, how participation and protest are regulated by the authorities, and the relationship between the Central state and its local agencies. Spanning the most important areas of the subject, the chosen articles explore the study of Chinese politics, the nature of the Chinese political system, the policy-making process, the nature of the local state, participation and protest, and authoritarian resilience or democratization. Professor Saich’s collection brings together essential reading for students of China, those who are interested in comparative politics, and the general reader who wants a coherent introduction about how China is ruled.
    The topic of moral competence is generally neglected in the study of public management and policy, yet it is critical to any hope we might have for strengthening the quality of governance and professional practice. What does moral competence consist of? How is it developed and sustained? These questions are addressed in this book through close examination of selected practitioners in Asian countries making life-defining decisions in their work. The protagonists include a doctor in Singapore, a political activist in India, a mid-level bureaucrat in central Asia, a religious missionary in China, and a journalist in Cambodia – each struggling with ethical challenges that shed light on what it takes to act effectively and well in public life. Together they bear witness to the ideal of public service, exercising their personal gifts for the well-being of others and demonstrating that, even in difficult circumstances, the reflective practitioner can be a force for good.
    The Arab Spring
    Brownlee, Jason, Tarek Masoud, and Andrew Reynolds. 2015. The Arab Spring . Oxford University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract
    Several years after the Arab Spring began, democracy remains elusive in the Middle East. The Arab Spring that resides in the popular imagination is one in which a wave of mass mobilization swept the broader Middle East, toppled dictators, and cleared the way for democracy. The reality is that few Arab countries have experienced anything of the sort. While Tunisia made progress towards some type of constitutionally entrenched participatory rule, the other countries that overthrew their rulers, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya remain mired in authoritarianism and instability. Elsewhere in the Arab world uprisings were suppressed, subsided, or never materialized. The Arab Spring's modest harvest cries out for explanation. Why did regime change take place in only four Arab countries and why has democratic change proved so elusive in the countries that made attempts? This book attempts to answer those questions. First, by accounting for the full range of variance: from the absence or failure of uprisings in such places as Algeria and Saudi Arabia at one end, to Tunisia's rocky but hopeful transition at the other. Second, by examining the deep historical and structure variables that determined the balance of power between incumbents and opposition. Brownlee, Masoud, and Reynolds find that the success of domestic uprisings depended on the absence of a hereditary executive and a dearth of oil rents. Structural factors also cast a shadow over the transition process. Even when opposition forces toppled dictators, prior levels of socioeconomic development and state strength shaped whether nascent democracy, resurgent authoritarianism, or unbridled civil war would follow.

    Tony Saich, December, 2014

    A recent survey asks citizens from 30 countries for their views on 10 influential national leaders who have a global impact (see Appendix). There are many rich findings among the data. However, two general trends stand out. The first is that the responses are influenced by geopolitics. Differences between nations and national leaders are clearly reflected in the attitudes of their own citizens. Thus, it is plain that the tensions between China and Japan result in very poor evaluations of China and its leader by Japanese citizens and vice versa. Second, there is a correlation in responses between the nature of the political system and citizen opinions of their own nation’s leader. On the whole, in multiparty systems or genuine two-party systems such as in Europe and the U.S., citizens are more critical of their national leaders and policies than is the case in those nations where politics is less contested.

    Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability
    Khagram, Sanjeev, Archon Fung, and Paolo de Renzio. 2013. Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability. Brookings Institution Press/Ash Center,. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, and Paolo Renzio, Brookings Institution Press, 2013  

    Decisions about “who gets what, when, and how” are perhaps the most important that any government must make. So it should not be remarkable that around the world, public officials responsible for public budgeting are facing demands – from their own citizenry, other government officials, economic actors, and increasingly from international sources – to make their patterns of spending more transparent and their processes more participatory. Surprisingly, rigorous analysis of the causes and consequences of fiscal transparency is thin at best. Open Budgets seeks to fill this gap in existing knowledge.

    The Education of Nations: How the Political Organization of the Poor, Not Democracy, Led Governments to Invest in Mass Education

    Stephen Kosack, Oxford University Press, 2012 

    What causes a government to invest – or not invest – in poor citizens, especially mass education? In The Education of Nations, Stephen Kosack focuses on three radically different developing countries whose developmental trajectories bear little resemblance to each other – Brazil, Ghana, and Taiwan – and offers an elegant and pragmatic answer to this crucially important question. Quite simply, the level of investment in mass education is the product of one of two simple conditions, one political and one economic. The first condition is the nature and success of political entrepreneurs at organizing the poor politically; the second is the flexibility of the labor market faced by employers who need skilled workers.

    Francisca M. Rojas, June 2012 

    The public disclosure of transit information by agencies is a successful case of open data adoption in the United States. Transit transparency offers insights into the elements that enable effective disclosure and delivery of digital information to the public in cases where there is a strong demand for that information, and where the disclosed information is available at the right place and time for users to act upon.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    There is an immense challenge facing the leadership in Myanmar. They have to negotiate a nation and to reform the basic assumptions and processes that have ruled for the past decades. They need to make the new system more representative, more inclusive, less favorable to a narrow group of businessmen and government or army officials, and more broadly successful. The new system has to give minority groups a reason to want to be part of the new nation. That means not only creating new sources of growth and wealth, but also making rules that ensure the benefits go to many more than the relatively narrow groups who have largely benefitted in the past. The technical adjustments needed in the exchange rate, the financial system, taxing and spending, infrastructure investments, and competition policy will all ultimately be judged on the ability of the policy package to create the conditions for national unity and progress. The government needs to have a vision of this goal and how the pieces fit together. Getting it to work in a shaky world economy with new and still evolving institutions is a huge challenge. But for those who have seen the past clearly for what it was, there can be no doubt that moving forward together is better than going back or staying put.

    Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale
    Parkinson, John, and Jane Mansbridge. 2012. Deliberative Systems: Deliberative Democracy at the Large Scale. Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    John Parkinson and Jane Mansbridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012 

    'Deliberative democracy' is often dismissed as a set of small-scale, academic experiments. This volume seeks to demonstrate how the deliberative ideal can work as a theory of democracy on a larger scale. It provides a new way of thinking about democratic engagement across the spectrum of political action, from towns and villages to nation states, and from local networks to transnational, even global, systems. Written by a team of the world's leading deliberative theorists, Deliberative Systems explains the principles of this new approach, which seeks ways of ensuring that a division of deliberative labor in a system nonetheless meets both deliberative and democratic norms.

    in Program, Innovations Government. 2008. “Celebrating 20 Years of Government Innovation ”. Read the full report Abstract

    Innovations in Government Program, March 2008 

    This report offers findings and subsequent analysis of the winners of the Innovations in American Government (IAG) Awards honored between 1986 and 2007. The findings were released at the Institute’s “Frontiers of Innovation: Celebrating 20 Years of Innovation in Government” conference held March 31 through April 2, 2008.

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