6th ECPR General Conference

Section: Challenges of Radical Policy Change: A Dialogue between Theory and Evidence
Panel: Evaluating governance and policy in the face of complexity: insights from heterodox economics

This panel takes place 25th – 27th August 2011 at the University of Iceland and focuses on how research at the interface between politics and economics can contribute to exploration of the questions of this conference section about the relationship between complexity, radical policy change and democracy. The proposition is that research straddling the politics-economics interface can not only enrich our understanding of governance and policy but also offer insights into their effectiveness.

Since values define what constitutes ‘effectiveness,’ this concept is inevitably contestable. Whereas procedural measures are important for considering the quality of governance and policy, assessment of effectiveness entails explicit focus not only on processes but also on outcomes. The presence of complex, long term, yet also urgent, political issues, such as climate change and habitat destruction, seems to demand a policy analysis that can provide both procedural and outcome assessments. Political science tends to focus on the former, often without detailed consideration of how procedures relate to the substantive content of subsequent policy outcomes

(Farrell 2004, Greenwood 2011). Mainstream, neoclassical economics tends to focus on the latter, providing tools for predicting policy outcomes, while purporting to be value-neutral with regard to the desirability of these outcomes and the effectiveness of governing institutions. Yet, alternative, ‘heterodox’ traditions in economics, such as Ecological, Austrian and Institutional Economics tend to focus more explicitly on normative questions of political economy. Contributions aligned with these traditions address the outcomes and the effectiveness of different forms of governance and policy and their implications for democracy.

Particularly with respect to complex geo-political issues such as climate change, a détente between politics and economics seems to be required (Farrell, 2006). This panel invites papers that consider the insights into policy effectiveness offered by these heterodox traditions, perhaps also incorporating knowledge from other social and natural sciences. The panel welcomes both empirical and theoretical papers.

References Farrell, Katharine Nora. 2004. “Recapturing Fugitive Power: epistemology, complexity and democracy.” Local Environment 9(5):469-479. Farrell, Katharine N. 2006. “Reflections on International Political Economy and Global Environmental Governance.” Organization and Environment 19(2):270-274. Greenwood, Dan. 2010. “Facing Complexity: Democracy, Expertise and the Discovery Process.” Political Studies.

Please see the ECPR conference website for details on how to submit a paper proposal: www.ecprnet.eu/conferences/general_conference/reykjavik/sections.asp

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