Administrative discretion,” Professor Laski observed a number of years ago, “is the essence of the modern state. Essay
“Administrative discretion,” Professor Laski observed a number of years ago, “is the essence of the modern state.”IntroductionThe idea of Corporate governance as related to policy formulating process is rather new. Prerogative of policy process was long before granted to state. Insofar as state system was incessantly evolving to separate function-oriented, quasi-bureaucratic classes from power source or, in contemporary language, policy making elite, the state was being covered with ‘mossy excrescent’.
As late as nineteenth century the first voices warning of ‘bureaucracy despotism’ were raised. From faction of subservient pages with changed identity there emerged a mighty power which could seriously influence the state policy. This evolution was not intentional, it was rather the functions bureaucrats performed and their professional ‘code of demeanor’ that contributed to their being participants to policy. The traditional bureaucratic virtues, which included cautiousness and passivity were the first factors which earned them bad fame from learned and energetic ministers and, surprisingly, underscored their unparalleled import to policy formulation and implementation. Traditional policy-administration dichotomy was articulated as constituting a theoretical framework for state mechanism and bureaucratic sabotage of policy implementation has only reinforced critics assumptions that bureaucracy is idle and lenient class which need chastisement and guidance applicable only under adherence to this model. Later, some timid effort were made to depict the politics-administration relation in another theoretical light.
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It was no longer accepted that bureaucracy and politics are functionally different. Instead, their functional convergence and similarity was emphasized inside new model of state governance. Although, this effort were rather sporadic and the representatives of this camp are still in minority as compared with proponents of ‘dichotomy’ approach.New theoretical model, recognizing functional convergence of bureaucracy and politics, fronted the idea of the ‘two worlds’ structural rather then functional difference. Public bureaucracies were reaffirmed as pro-active and creative repositories of procedural shrewdness, knowledge and information pertaining to public activity of government as well as constituting great interest to private sphere.
Insofar as government remitted from substantial withdrawal ‘to make way for market and social self-government’, the bureaucracy was given particular possibilities to interact with market and NGO and to overtly participate as separate identity. State, under this condition, ought to be perceived as a interaction of a number of ‘governing’ actors which comprised pure (under this level of analysis) state-actor of government or policy formulation center, not pure (or retaining some level of autonomy as well as separate role) actor of bureaucracy and non-state actor. Thus implied new mode of government is known as ‘governance’ where every identity, social group or factor to the degree of its autonomy and within its purview participates and pursue its needs. It is ultimately greater autonomy of sectors, factions and social groups and the degree to which their interests and purviews intersects that made possible explosive growth of networks in contemporary governance.
Through the last 40 years as federal grants and regulatory programs, inter alia, were increasingly introduces, the complexity of networks and the number of actors their included only increased. In recent years [specialized] policy issue networks energetically participated in public policy’s basic three stages of agenda setting (development), policy implementation and evaluation. This network were composed of representatives of organized interests which had a personal stake in the outcome of policy action.
Thus, such participation was not only mutually enhansive and fruitfull, it was practically inevitable.The level of interaction and interdependence within some highly sensitive issues, which have substantial weight in both, public and private, domains requires unrestricted involvement of all actor somehow concerned. And if one takes a view that all three fundamental stages of public policy are thus take place within specialized policy issue networks, he/she will be obliged to admit some additional dimensions of that three stage process. This is to say that focusing upon the interactions among participants within “specialized communities, decision streams, or policy subsystems” provides new conceptual frame work whithin which public policy might be seen. At this point theory will undoubtedly speak in favour of perspectives’ broadening which corresponds with scientifical pursuit of accuracy and fidelity. My position is that longing toward outdated ‘iron triangle’ model is and hardly feasible. Among today’s scholars ‘iron government-bureacracy-society(market) triangle’ may no longer viewed as constituting adequate theoretical network for prospect researches on politics. The obsoleteness of that model as employed by state may only empede efficient agenda introduction and implementing.
On the other hand, increasing emphasis on corporate governance in practical terms may forestall the real state of affairs and also impede the scientific iimpartiality and accuracy.The current situation is such that old theory does not want to give it up voluntary while new approach still can’t force it to surrender. It follows that we should delign the province of effective application of ‘governance model’. This descriptive function of the article nevertheless will comport with some practical tasks before us.
I can find the protagonists of ‘corporate governance’ among those who want to distance themselves fron state-centric thinking or refuse to recognize border between ‘public’ and ‘private’ as clearly defined. I may also find them among proponents of the thesis that bureacracy makes indeed substantial and, at times, creative import to policy process through all its phazes. Sooner or later they will meet at the point of practical recognition of policy process as multilateral one. They also will ask the same questions concerning the configuration of actors involved in formulation and implementing sectoral public activity. Their characteristicaly and deliberately ‘micro’ or empirical approach has a number of advantages and limitations but is scaled down to some particular activities or policies.
At this level they are likely to score triumph of corporate governance model. I will now take a closer look at some of these policies as well as investigate the advantages and disadvantages of this model at some broader perspective.‘Corporate governance model’In the process of “retailing policy” central government is only “wholesaling administration”. Retaining to the certain degree the capacity and prerogative of policy formulation government produces and sells that policy.
However, the policy itself is inseperable from this policy’s imlementation; it cannot come to existence in any form other than through implementation, that is to say, through involvement of bureaucracy. This truth is the most exploited by corporate governance proponents one. By introducing the policy government, in fact, wholesales administration because it hands the implementation of the policy to bureacracy and specialized issue groups.
For example, network of policy specialists awere of bureaucratic mechanism and often with participation of the members of that mechanism consult major business firms on governments’ regulatory policy. The particular knowledge policy specialists possess is inseparable of that which bureaucracy possess; it is aggravated and transformed through the process of problem-related cooperation with market where bureaucracy represent Government and network of policy specialist represent major business players.The agreement between participants of issue network or the outcome of their competitive struggle under this circumstances is likely to affect the implementation of policy or, in general terms, assuming inseparability of policy and its implementation, public policy more than inter- governmental agreement would do. Orginized interest groups, which operate across public-private boundaries, reflect more efficient informal, decentralized and institutionalised mode of governance.
Specialized issue networks, wherein interest group participate, nowdays are practical and expedient mechanism of political resourse mobilization while traditional state mechanism is seen hardly potent of such mobilization in situation where decision making capacity is no more concentrated and centralized but dispersed among public and privat actors.The dynamic of governance resembles the high speed interaction between authonomous units pursuing distinct interests but nevertheless united by flexible and informal framework of governance. Each unit serves the network and benefits from it: it serves with expertise it possess and benefits from common aggravated knowledge.
‘Specialized issue network’ status shapens both structure of it and compells the participants to the certain mode of behaviour. Those networks are characterized by high level of devision of labour. Competitiveness of network is insured by the fact that each unit operates individually in its own particular market. Expertise is garanteed because every agency including core ones provide network only with the services of their best expertise; other servises are attained through outsourcing. Management of the network is focused upon exerting functions of enterpreneur (notion traditionaly pertaining to the ‘dichotomy’ vocabulary). Every unit may as well participate in number of networks steadily providing its unique expertise to each of them. Thus, network participants are constantly competitive and are in far better position than every of its non-network collegues.Lets now take a look at the role of bureaucracy whithin such networks.
Network or community of professionals is constantly in need of information. Administrator constantly produces and disseminates such information. It’s role of “persuading the community of professionals through such mechanisms as presenting conference papers, selectively funding research proposals, and giving persistent attention to a preferred alternative” is akin to the role policy enterpreneur especialy regarding the fact that infromation provided goes through a process of natural selections. Out of the heap of initial proposals only most valuable and likely to succeed proposals survive. The process have tremendous importance because it is through that ‘trickle down’ procedure that truly feasible and efficient policy may be shapened. Far from exxegarating the potency of bureaucracy I subcribe to the view that this faction in deed possess unique knowledge of their policy field and as a general rule have a wide discretion over the generating and usage of information pertaining to their field.
I would like to emphisize the degree of incoherence among different governmental agencies as to practical impact on policy formation their have. The latter highly correlates with margin of ‘administrative discretion’ each agency possess. It is natural that Ministry of Agrculture or Trade would have far broader margin of discretion and thus leverage to influence policy formation than, say, Post Office. But it is also natural that agencies having a high policy content are traditionally worse managed than those carrying out routine tasks.Reforms’ rethorics articulated by Margareth Thatcher in 80th was pointed at authonomization of agencies and their more active unfettered participation in market which will open them toward private incentives and enable them to front some incentives themselves. In line with overall preoccupation with public-private relations and passiveness of the state Margareth Thatcher adhered to, bureacratic performance was susceptible of her close eye and could hardly elude critics. Thatcher accused civil service of having its own policy agenda and being of no practical avail when it has come to advices.
I do not think that Thatcher meant some uprising of ‘governance’ when talking about ‘own policy agenda’ of bureaucracy. To the contrary, it was she which envisioned governance model as beneficail to society and on that ground forced the implementation of a kind of such model into life amidst raving and obstructing bureaucracy. Thatcher also tried to distinguish policy formulation role from pure managerial functions of civil service and emphsize the importance of the latter. Improvement in management was tied with developing the ability to concemtrate on clients and make governmental programs more accessible to them. Among the signals of Thatcher’s government were those which were aimed at somehow introducing competition into bureaucratic province by pitting them against private expertise and compelling to “compete head to head with private firms”.
Underneath this policies was horror of acknowledgment of the degree to which current policy depended on bureaucracy. Great detrimentally role ascribed to them was a mere vestige of that potential civil servants possessed as regards policy process.Expertise bureaucracy lended to the politicians was one of manifestations of that potential. New political leaders felt that advisory role of civil servants to be “deeply elligimate”. Too powerful officials has became and the task was to mould them down to management rather that policy making. To this end political leaders and ministers signed up partisan advisers to free themselves from pesky permanent officials.
This marked very important change or turnaround in state mechanism: accused of conspiracy and own policy agenda bureaucrats were thrown down from advisory heights into managerial plateau. Nevertheless, it did not preclude ministerial negligence and dependence on their advisor whoever they be. Permanent officials expertise was rejected but their position and right to permanently acquire and re-produce knowledge was untouched. Thus, in 80th politics only sidelined bureaucracy within advisory domain and encouraged within managerial one. This, as it later appeared, had two important implication within emerging ‘governance system’.First, it contributed to further depreciation of political knowledge as compared to bureaucratic. Political leadership, which was subscribed to a firmly observed set of political beliefs, has practically lost the coherence with social relations it used to have through bureaucracy, which served a conductor between public and private spheres while implementing public policy within social and market milieu.
The split between bureaucratic and political knowledge was only widening as politicians turned to partisan advisors and strategists, which stood no closer to society and market then the former. In nineties this brought to a surprising outbursts, designed so as to regain the lost knowledge and fight the obstructive bureaucracy back. This in fact constitutes a second implication.Ministers as well as Prime Minister Blair got them advisors representing business and standing in perilious, as regards they impartiality, approximity to market. “Berlusconi-style, fantastically wealthy”, this unelected advisers render assistance on market related issues on gratis basis without any fear of Government being accused of conflict of interests.
This move was made to circumvent civil service and thus approach market. Moreover, Alastair Campbells and Jo Moors has acquired “unprecedented powers for an unelected party political advisers”. “They attend cabinet meetings, rebukes ministers (to the extent that he can bring about their dismissal), gives orders to civil servants, and presents the government’s affairs “in a political context”. Campbell’s example evidences that government waged a war on bureaucracy strata and willing to fight that war with ‘poitical context’ arms.Policy of 80th which brought civil servants greater administrative discretion and has taken away their advisory rights contributed to this faction deeper involvement into private sector. Traversing a great distance from public to private bureaucracy thereby designed ‘governance model’ and taken its place within it. Insofar as networks acquire greater competitive power and dare even challenge government, bureaucracy may feel contended to have stepped on that road.
At the same time, this has widened the abyss between government and civil service. The former was being detached from market for long time and now, facing networks flourish and witnessing its abilities to shape the policy diminished, tries to somehow reaffirm its policy making rights. Given the flow of rethorics in UK papers representing civil service as true and solid defense of government (“It will, to be sure, find excuses not to execute the orders of ministers it believes to be on the way out. It will also follow its own policies if a minister is lazy.
But when a powerful government tells it what to do, it does it.”), one should think that present governmental policy does testifies that abyss. That is why, ‘corporate governance’ is emphasized over and over again as practical reality and, what is more important, reality capable of management.At any rate, bureaucracy can always choose from among “multiple conflicting messages” coming from both government elected officials and spesialized network or advocacy groups.
This inevitably involves administrators in political activity. Political moves of Blair government witness that issue networks are displacing political parties, chief executives, and other political institutions that once served to centralize power in our fragmented governmental system. Now is re-emerging a centerless or polycentered society in which governmental officials, those formally responsible for public policy, have less and less control over it.
Individual legislators, generally lacking the policy expertise enjoyed by the bureaucracies or the seniority required for legislative leadership, often pursue status within policy networks in order to advance as major participants in public policy. Powerful primarily because of their association with the network and their ability to lend a reputation for influence, these policy politicians forsake the traditional political parties. Thus, party influence, the primary source of hierarchical leadership in our governing system, is eroding further and is becoming displaced by the more decentralized leadership structures associated with policy issue networks.Conclusion‘Corporate governance’ is emerging as objective reality. Bureaucracy has great importance in this process. It at times even assumes a role of policy enterpreneur within networks. Among the advantages of this process are greater predictability of the private sectors response to the policy elaborated since it was actually elaborated whithin specialized networks and greater accuracy of programs.
This also means leveling of political hierarchy and redirecting power over decision making from the general political system into specialized, privatized arenas of experts. Depositaries of knowledge may thus found their way in policy making to replace more traditional political alliances as the primary resource in this process. On the other hand, government’s present stance may indicate some ‘soft spots’ within that metamorphosis. The major of them is that Government currently not ready to accept this changes and will tend to reassert it policy making role even at the price of escalating politics- bureaucracy conflict.Bibliography:Policy issue networks and the public policy cycle: a structural-functional framework for public administration. James E.
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