24 September 2013

The Governance Report 2013 takes a new approach to evaluating good governance – described as “…the effective, efficient, and reliable set of legitimate institutions and actors dedicated to dealing with matters of public concern, be it in the field of financial markets (the focus of this edition) or other policy fields, and across local, national and international levels..”

The Hertie School of Government researchers have packaged a range of recognised datasets to produce a some unique perspectives. Some of the findings cast a new light on the Scandinavians – and New Zealand – often ranked as among the states having the richest governance characteristics.

“,,,The Report does not deal mainly with the technical aspects of today’s policy challenges (e.g. issues such as what might be the best technology to reduce greenhouse gases); rather, it uses such policy challenges as a lens through which to explore how different actor groups have adjusted and could adjust to the new types of challenges brought about by the new policy-making realities…”

The compilers consider they have a novel and systematic way to address  conceptual issues, examine current governance challenges, assess innovations, and develop informative and illustrative indicators. They seek to answer the follow sorts of issues:

*  What are current and emerging governance problems?  From transnational perspectives, which policy fields are well managed, which are struggling, and what problem areas are threatening to become ungovernable?

*  Where are innovations taking place, and where are they not; and what blockages exist – institutional or otherwise?

*  How can we recognize and assess whether state and non-state actors have adjusted to these new and still evolving conditions of public policy-making? How successful have their adjustments been?

* In the light of the experience gained to date, how could the governance of the different actor groups or concerns be improved? What new policy thinking, capacities and institutions might be required? What new, innovative ways and approaches to policy-making hold lessons and promise for others?

The presentation of data in the numerous graphs in the Governance Report can give quite a different picture of the world.

The dashboard on trade openness shows Costa Rica as the most open country followed by New Zealand, New Zealand ranks among the “less virtuous” on greenhouse emissions and Kyoto commitments, it doesn’t stand out for “ideal points estimates” in UN General Assembly voting, the New Zealand nuclear policy doesn’t  have any uniqueness in international comparisons, but New Zealand is outstanding for effectiveness, transparency and legitimacy.

Enhanced credibility can perhaps be given to the researchers.  Another research paper on the Hertie SOG website accurately predicted the outcome of the German election.