Games Real Actors Play: Actor-Centered Institutionalism in Policy Research

By Fritz W. Scharpf | Go to book overview

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.


NOTES
1.
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.
2.
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.
3.
The explanation implies that a restrictive monetary policy neutralizes the economic effects of any attempt by the government to practice fiscal reflation.
4.
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.
5.
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.
6.
On a more philosophical level, the same thought is expressed by the Kantian maxim "Sollen impliziert Können" (ought implies can).

-18-

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Games Real Actors Play: Actor-Centered Institutionalism in Policy Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • 1 - Policy Research in the Face of Complexity 19
  • Notes 34
  • 2 - Actor-Centered Institutionalism 36
  • Notes 49
  • 3 - Actors 51
  • Notes 67
  • 4 - Actor Constellations 69
  • Notes 93
  • 5 - Unilateral Action in Anarchic Fields and Minimal Institutions 97
  • Notes 114
  • 6 - Negotiated Agreements 116
  • Notes 147
  • 7 - Decisions by Majority Vote 151
  • Notes 168
  • 8 - Hierarchical Direction 171
  • Notes 193
  • 9 - Varieties of the Negotiating State 195
  • Notes 214
  • Appendix 1 - A Game-Theoretical Interpretation of Inflation and Unemployment in Western Europe 217
  • Notes 237
  • References 240
  • Appendix 2 - Efficient Self-Coordination in Policy Networks -- a Simulation Study 245
  • Notes 273
  • References 276
  • References 281
  • About the Book and Author 303
  • Index 305
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