War of Ideas

Francis Fukuyama wants a better way to measure bureaucracy

In a commentary for the journal Governance,  Fukuyama laments that scholars don’t have yet a good way of measuring a state’s capacity for governance, as opposed to its level of democracy. In other words, we tend to focus more on how state power is limited rather than how it is deployed: The relative emphasis on ...

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In a commentary for the journal Governance,  Fukuyama laments that scholars don’t have yet a good way of measuring a state’s capacity for governance, as opposed to its level of democracy. In other words, we tend to focus more on how state power is limited rather than how it is deployed:

The relative emphasis on checking institutions rather than power-deploying institutions is evident in the governance measures that have been developed in recent years. There are numerous measures of the quality of democracy like the Freedom House and Polity measures, as well as newer and very sophisticated ones like the Varieties of Democracy project led by Michael Coppedge, John Gerring, et?al. We have fewer measures of Weberian bureaucracy—that is, the degree to which bureaucratic recruitment and promotion is merit based, functionally organized, based on technical qualifications, etc.

In fact, Fukuyama argues such a measure would be more useful if it is seperate from democracy scores:

As a starting point, I am going to define governance as a government’s ability to make and enforce rules, and to deliver services, regardless of whether that government is democratic or not. I am more interested in what Michael Mann labels “infrastructural” rather than “despotic” power (Mann 1984). The reason I am excluding democratic accountability from the definition of governance is that we will later want to be able to theorize the relationship between governance and democracy. The current orthodoxy in the development community is that democracy and good governance are mutually supportive. I would argue that this is more of a theory than an empirically demonstrated fact, and that we cannot empirically demonstrate the connection if we define one to include the other.

A number of scholars critique Fukuyama’s argument on Governance‘s blog. Over at the Monkey Cage, Erik Voeten sums up their case:

Two common themes in the critiques are that Fukuyama focuses too much on governments and ignores private actor governance and that he does not start from a normative framework that defines what good governance should look like.

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