Chapter 8 then focuses on binding decisions imposed by hierarchical direction
within organizations and within the state. If the holders of asymmetric power
could be assumed to have complete information and to be motivated by the public interest, then hierarchical coordination could assure both welfare production
and distributive justice. It is then shown that the information problem associated
with hierarchical coordination can be resolved only under very restrictive assumptions, whereas the mechanisms of democratic accountability may indeed
assure a reasonable approximation of public-interest orientation among the governors of constitutional democracies.
Chapter 9, finally, discusses the conditions of the "negotiating state." Internally,
the fact that hierarchical coordination is increasingly replaced by "negotiations in
the shadow of the state" can be shown to be conducive to public-interest --
oriented policy outcomes that suffer less from information deficits than would be
true of hierarchical direction. Externally, however, increasing economic globalization and transnational interdependence will weaken the hierarchical authority
of the nation-state and hence its capacity to assure welfare production and distributive justice. This loss of national problem-solving capacity is unlikely to be
compensated for by policies adopted in transnational negotiations.
Another indication of the dominant sense of the profession is the fact that on both
sides of the Atlantic the work of the few political scientists who are presenting game-theoretic analyses of empirical policy interactions at a high level of technical competence, such
as George Tsebelis ( 1990; 1994) and Otto Keck ( 1987; 1988), is still considered a methodological specialty rather than part of the mainstream of empirical policy research.
In the "Keynesian" climate of the 1970s, wage increases could be "passed on" to consumers, so that firms had little reason to resist union demands.
The explanation implies that a restrictive monetary policy neutralizes the economic
effects of any attempt by the government to practice fiscal reflation.
It is true, as Paul Sabatier, for one, keeps reminding me, that the number of actors involved in policymaking, and especially in policy implementation, may be quite large. Nevertheless, it will often be possible to use valid simplifications, to be discussed later in Chapter 4, in order to reduce the actor constellation to manageable proportions.
The reverse is equally true: Substantive policy analysis must have done its job before
political science is able to answer any policy-relevant questions. Thus I have argued that
countries with "neocorporatist" institutions did have a comparative advantage under the
stagflation conditions of the 1970s, whereas that advantage disappeared in the economic
environment of the early 1980s ( Scharpf 1991a). Though that particular conclusion has
been challenged ( Garrett 1995; but see Moses 1995), the general point remains that we
need to know what the policy problem and its requirements are before we can identify the
factors that may cause a polity to do better or worse in that regard. Then, and only then,
can political science research make a useful contribution to policy analysis.
On a more philosophical level, the same thought is expressed by the Kantian maxim
"Sollen impliziert Können" (ought implies can).