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Nat O’Connor

Abstract

The publication of a far-reaching public value framework for central government in the UK presents an opportunity to consider how this or a similar framework could be a useful tool for public management in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The concept of public value represents an evolution beyond some of the weaknesses of New Public Management, as it goes further to measure the holistic public benefit compared with pure monetary valuation. Examination of the current programmes for government in Ireland and Northern Ireland leads to the conclusion that a public value framework could be useful to advance their agendas. Lessons from social value legislation in England, Scotland and Wales indicate how a more comprehensive public value framework might be implemented in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Open access

Michelle Rouse

Abstract

The adverse gender outcomes associated with post-conflict power-sharing arrangements contrast starkly with the socially transformative promise of the framework peace agreements which produce them. Scholarship that has sought to analyse the adverse gender outcomes which occur on imple - mentation has largely focused on the complexities of power-sharing institutional architecture and the role of elite political actors within it. This article makes the case for a new research direction. Parallel research in the field of post-conflict public administration indicates that the complexity of power-sharing institutional arrangements may provide increased opportunity structures for the use of bureaucratic discretion. While use of bureaucratic discretion among elite bureaucrats in Northern Ireland was found to be grounded in core public service values (O’Connor, 2015), feminist institutional analysis exposes those ostensibly benign values (neutrality, objectivity and impartiality) as distinctly gendered phenomena when mediated through the prism of gendered organisational culture (Chappell, 2002, 2006). This article considers the history and specificity of the Northern Ireland civil service and in particular its elite cohort of decision-makers - the senior civil service (SCS) - with a view to excavating the particular institutional legacies which may imbue SCS values and culture. In doing so it asks whether gendered institutional legacies have the potential to function as structural inhibitors to formal provisions for gender equality and socially transformative policy in Northern Ireland’s post-conflict dispensation.

Open access

Markus Ketola and Karl O’Connor

Open access

Colin Knox and Seamus McCrory

Abstract

Northern Ireland has now moved from ‘negative’ peace (the absence of violence, largely) to ‘positive’ peace (confidence-building measures to consolidate gains in voting practice and in reducing discrimination against the minority community in employment and housing allocation). This transition has involved funders at the European, regional and local levels investing in peace and reconciliation measures to consolidate political gains made since the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in 1998. This paper examines the achievements made to date, the extent to which they have resulted in a peace dividend for those most impacted by the violence, and whether the focus of peace-building interventions should shift away from the traditional community relations model. It finds that the reformed local authorities in Northern Ireland and the border regions could play a pivotal role in making a significant difference to peace-building through new legal powers in community planning.

Open access

Michal Sedlačko and Katarína Staroňová

Abstract

In the Slovak Republic, a number of internal ministerial advisory bodies, intended to provide high-quality analyses and evidence based policy making for national policy, have been established over the last two years. We have studied how the rational technocratic model of scientific policy advice as a specific mode of governing, acted out through these new institutional sites of expertise, survives in a highly politicised environment of the Slovak public administration. Central to our study was the reconstruction of an intersubjective account central to the work of organising on which the analytical centres and their staff, as well as their patrons, participate. Complementary to this, we focused on intersubjectively shared elements of the analysts’ community and subculture within the dominant CEE public administration culture. The vision of governing with expertise shared by analytical centres rests on the principles of transparency, orientation on professional merit (primarily econometric, analytical skills), voluntarism, conflict avoidance, political opportunism and institutional autonomy. Analytical centres identify themselves as a distinct professional group – in fact, they form a distinct organisational subculture around traits such as demographic characteristics (predominantly young males with economic or mathematical/IT background), symbols, hierarchies, working culture, humour, as well as artefacts. Analysts see their mission in the provision of impartial, objective analytical evidence for informed decision making, yet they negotiate the boundary between politics and expertise on a daily basis, and, as we found, in numerous aspects of analysts’ work politics cannot be entirely bracketed.

Open access

Marian Cosmin Gabriel

Abstract

The process of administrative decentralization of the education system in Romania proceeded in chaotic steps. It was done under the pressure, on one hand, of the EU integration requirements and, on the other hand, of the local administrations who wanted more control over how their money were used in the schools and of the parents committees that wanted to have a say in the local schools. The road was scattered with new reform legislations coming with every change in government composition and ministers. The result was a combination of local autonomy and central control that had the potential to produce confusion and conflict. The multiple and complex blend of divided responsibilities and powers turned out in the process of setting up the new form or entry grade in the Romanian primary education cycle in a rational strategic play scholarly designated as anticommons. Each separated actor tries to obtain a maximizing share of the cooperatively generated benefit for a minimum possible cost. The interactions are modeled as a Game of Chicken where, because actors calculate separately, each selects a higher price/lower quantity position than is optimal, resulting in a lower net payoff both individually and collectively.

Open access

Maria Alessandra Antonelli and Valeria De Bonis

Abstract

Based on the construction of a composite index to assess the relative performance of welfare policies, we show that the variability of performances cannot be explained only by the amount of resources devoted to social policies, but also by its composition: countries with higher shares of social public expenditure, specifically aimed at reducing income concentration, obtain better results. This associates the traditional classification of the European welfare systems to the performance obtained in the social sector.

Open access

Željko Poljak

Abstract

The author analyses the transport policy of the rail sector in Croatia and tries to give answers regarding the policy stability and change based on the actors in the rail transport. The aim of the paper is to give an overview of the development of the rail sector in modern Croatia and to explore, in a larger period, the relations and beliefs of all types of actors in this area at the national level. As a theoretical background, the author uses an advocacy coalition framework, which states that policy actors are grouped into coalitions within a policy subsystem in which they advocate their beliefs in order to transfer them into government programs, thus provoking change and stability in the system. The author methodologically uses qualitative content analysis in the form of coding of the collected material based on transcripts of interviews with actors, official documents, and transcript of one parliamentary debate. Following is a review of the historical development of the rail sector in Croatia, with an emphasis on the post-independence Croatia period, which provides a basis for concrete research findings. The results are presented in two units: (1) identified actors and their relations, and (2) beliefs of actors. The follow-up discussion points to the existence of similar patterns of beliefs among the actors at the national level. However, the empirical material collected does not establish clear relationships that could be classified as an advocacy coalition. In conclusion, the author argues that the coded material does not give away any importance of the coalitions of actors at the national level for policy stability and change of rail sector leading to recommendations for further research in this area, where other transport sectors should be included as well as international actors.