Law, Citizenship and Co-production

Silvia Cannas and I are delighted to have contributed a chapter to the Palgrave Handbook of Co-Production, edited by my former Birmingham colleague Tony Bovaird and Elke Loffler.  The abstract appears below and on SSRN.  Unfortunately, Palgrave does not endorse an open access policy that would allow the last working version to be posted.

Despite numerous attempts to define the core traits of co-production, it remains an heterogeneous concept. Building upon the existing literature, we engage in legal reasoning to identify the co-producer, especially in those cases where she does not directly benefit from the service being co-produced. Introducing and relying on the concept of proximity, we argue that co-production should be centered in an administrative citizenship, which associates the residency within a community with a set of rights and duties towards the public administration. Among those obligations, participation in co-production is a pathway toward active citizenship. We justify why co-production can be non-voluntary, or compelled by law to realize public interests. Yet we caution that co-production as a management scheme requires flexibility, and embedding it too strictly within a legal framework can diminish its effectiveness.

Herbert Simon Award – Thank You!

But for the coronavirus pandemic, I would be delivering the Herbert Simon Award lecture at the Midwest Political Science Association meetings in Chicago tonight.  It is an incredible honor to have been selected for this award.  Through their work, past awardees have shaped the way that I think about public administration and political science.  I am fortunate to count many of them among my friends.  And I am sorry that the world is such that I could not be in Chicago tonight to thank those who have made my career as a scholar a very happy one.

I meant to give a lecture entitled “Democracy Administered: How Public Administration Shapes Representative Government” this evening.  Instead, these 48 days of lockdown in Milan have given me the time I needed to finish a long suffering book manuscript with that title.  I thought it fitting that I was able to submit it to the publisher today.

To all my colleagues from whom I have learned so much, thank you.

Delegation and machine learning

A recent paper with Jason Anastasopoulos was published in the American Political Science Review that uses machine learning to replicate Fabio Franchino’s coding scheme in all European Union all directives and regulations from 1958–2017.  Gated and ungated versions are available and the abstract appears below.

Delegation of powers represents a grant of authority by politicians to one or more agents whose powers are determined by the conditions in enabling statutes. Extant empirical studies of this problem have relied on labor-intensive content analysis that ultimately restricts our knowledge of how delegation has responded to politics and institutional change in recent years. We present a machine learning approach to the empirical estimation of authority and constraint in European Union (EU) legislation, and demonstrate its ability to accurately generate the same discretionary measures used in an original study directly using all EU directives and regulations enacted between 1958–2017. We assess validity by training our classifier on a random sample of only 10% of hand-coded provisions and replicating an important substantive finding. While our principal interest lies in delegation, our method is extensible to any context in which human coding has been profitably produced.

The party system, the electoral system and electoral accountability

Christopher Kam, Alexander Held and I have published a paper that reveals an essential role for the bipolarity of the party system in electoral accountability.  The paper is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review and its abstract appears below.  For now, it is accessible via SSRN.  I will update this post when the version of record becomes available.

Electoral accountability requires that voters have the ability to constrain the incumbent government’s policy-making power. We express the necessary conditions for this claim as an accountability identity in which the electoral system and the party system interact to shape the accountability of parliamentary governments. Data from 400 parliamentary elections between 1948-2012, show that electoral accountability is contingent on the party system’s bipolarity, i.e., with parties arrayed in two distinct blocs. Proportional electoral systems achieve account- ability as well as majoritarian ones when bipolarity is strong, but not when it is weak. This is because bipolarity decreases the number of connected coalitions that incumbent parties can join to preserve their policy-making power. Our results underscore the limitations that party systems place on electoral reform and the benefits that bipolarity offers for clarifying voters’ choices and intensifying electoral competition.

Sociotropic voting and public-private partnerships

Camila Angulo, Ellie Woodhouse and I have a paper forthcoming in a special issue of Governance later this year.  The abstract appears below and the paper can be accessed on SSRN.  I’m co-editing the issue entitled “Public Administration in Developing Countries” and will post more about as it shapes up and the version of record comes online.

Infrastructure public-private partnerships (PPPs) eschew traditional public management to provide distributive goods worldwide. Yet, in Colombia, the context of our study, both the promise of and voters’ experience with PPPs hinder incumbent parties in elections when theories of distributive politics expect otherwise. We argue that negative experiences with PPPs introduce a sociotropic turn in individual voting: bad experience crowds out the possibility that promising a new project will improve a voter’s own welfare. Studying what are to our knowledge all 109 Colombian PPP projects between 1998-2014, and over 8,700 individual survey responses, our evidence shows that vote intention for the incumbent executive or his party decreases as experience with more PPPs in respondents’ districts increases. Our analysis and results introduce an important agenda for research into the political significance of these legacies of New Public Management.

New Research: How can we measure the failure of PPPs?

Valentina Mele, Andy Whitford and I have a piece forthcoming in Summer 2020 that will appear as part of a special issue of Governance.  Our paper addresses the question of how to measure the failure of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).  The abstract appears below and the paper can be found on SSRN.  I will update this post when the version of record appears on the journal webpage.

Amidst calls for more scrutiny of the failure of infrastructure public-private partnerships (PPPs), uncertainty about how we can measure failure remains, and little systematic evidence illuminates its likelihood. Our mixed-methods design explores the notion of failure, and identifies the conditions under which it happens. The first phase of our research employs documentary analysis and semi-structured expert interviews and identifies project cancellation as capturing the most severe occurrences of failure. A second phase statistically analyzes a unique World Bank dataset capturing the provisions of over 4,000 infrastructure PPPs launched between 1990-2015 in 89 countries. We find robust evidence supporting the theoretical claim that PPPs are less likely to be cancelled in countries with more veto points in their political institutions to restrain politicians from intervening in policy implementation. Cancellation is a rare, but valid indicator of failure, and the importance of veto players clarifies how political risk operates in this context.

New Research – How Politics Influences Statutory Deadlines

I am pleased to announce that Kathleen Doherty and I have published an article in Public Administration Review that considers U.S. federal agency compliance with statutory deadlines as a management problem that must respect the political feasibility of rulemaking as well as agency capacity.  The abstract follows and gated and SSRN versions of the paper are now available.

Congress imposes statutory deadlines in an attempt influence agency regulatory agendas, though agencies regularly fail to meet these deadlines. Non-compliance can take the form of delay, and at the extreme, non-promulgation of mandated regulations. What political and administrative conditions shape the timing of rules subject to statutory deadlines and how do they do so? We consider compliance from the agency’s perspective, as a management problem of optimizing the regulatory agenda subject to two constraints: the political feasibility of rulemaking and the capacity of agencies. We further argue that public managers consider how delay maps into what we distinguish as political and administrative time. We test our theory on all unique rules with statutory deadlines published in the Unified Agenda between 1995-2012. Our argument and findings about the timing and ultimate promulgation of rules have implications that reorient studies of the regulatory agenda from legal and political into more managerial terms.



New Research – Credit Claiming and Infrastructure Development

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve published a new paper in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory entitled “Public Goods, Private Partnerships, and Political Institutions.”  The abstract appears below and the paper is available via SSRN.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have become an essential vehicle for infrastructure development worldwide. Theoretical arguments primarily focus on build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreements as a canonical form of PPP, though they rarely discuss the political underpinnings of governments’ decisions to enter such agreements. How does a government’s longevity, stability and its capacity to raise revenue make BOTs more attractive than other types of partnerships? Extending recent theoretical advances through concepts of control rights and veto players and statistically analyzing a database of more than 4,300 PPP agreements for new construction of infrastructure in 83 developing economies between 1990-2014, I provide the first large-scale quantitative evidence of the influence of political institutions on government choices to adopt BOTs. I find that BOTs are less attractive as the tenure of the longest-serving veto player increases, when veto players are more frequently replaced, and when governments can generate more tax revenue, but more likely when that revenue is above a country’s historic average. My findings contribute to literatures on distributive public policy, hybrid governance, complex project management, and to the policy debate about the role of PPPs in economic development.

New Research – When House Members Don’t Like Pork

Pam Clouser McCann and I have published a paper in Legislative Studies Quarterly that examines the influence of decentralized administration through grant-in-aid programs on congressional role call voting.  The last working paper version can be accessed on SSRN and the abstract appears below.

Congress packages pork-barrel spending in complicated proposals that belie theories of distributive politics. We theorize that roll-call voting on such bills depends on grant programs’ administrative centralization, party ties with presidents or home-state governors, and differences in geographic representation between chambers. Analyzing votes between 1973-2010 using a within-legislator strategy reveals that House members are less likely to support decentralized spending when they are co-partisans with presidents, while senators support decentralization regardless of such party ties. When House members or senators share affiliation with only governors or with neither chief executive, the likelihood of support rises with decentralization.