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LATIN American governments at a glance: Goals and knowledge gaps. Jeffrey Rinne June 2009. A hot topic. Tremendous promise... . [Note the elegant simplicity of “cold fusion”]. But as it turns out, it’s not that simple. Presentation outline. Our challenges Theory Contestability

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Presentation Transcript
tremendous promise
Tremendous promise...

[Note the elegant simplicity of “cold fusion”]

But as it turns out, it’s not that simple

presentation outline
Presentation outline
  • Our challenges
    • Theory
    • Contestability
    • Conceptual categories
  • All is not lost: Positive incremental steps
    • SNA and the Public Domain
  • The LAGG initiative
    • How does it attempt to incorporate these lessons?
    • Where do we stand?
our challenges
Our challenges
  • Theoretical: rational actors have choices
    • Metrics can be powerful tools for: a) learning, and b) motivation
    • But there’s a “motivational problem” too: the many faces of “gaming”
  • Contestability: no agreed Platonic ideal in goals or their measurement
    • This means trouble for cross-national metrics
    • And for tracking metrics over time
  • Operational categories for common understanding
all is not lost
All is not lost
  • Main messages:
    • Accept the first two challenges (theory and contestability). Incorporate them; do not dismiss them.
      • THERE IS COMMON GROUND: New institutionalism, policy issues that resonate across countries
    • Continue the hard work to develop a more robust common language of operational categories to underpin our metrics
a operational categories sna
(a) Operational categories: SNA
  • A major strength of the SNA is the ability to compile accounts for whole sectors, individual units, or some intermediate levels and to aggregate the accounts in different ways.
    • But it’s tricky
      • e.g., some non profit institutions are part of “general government” while others are not
      • How to account for “joint ventures”
  • You can build it up and also take it apart.
  • How many layers of the onion should be unraveled?
    • That depends on the question or issue of concern
      • Is it a mammal? Dogs vs. cats; hound vs. non-sporting, terrier …
b operational categories the public domain
(b) Operational categories: The “Public Domain”
    • Governments use their powers to pass laws affecting the behavior of other economic units.
    • They redistribute income and wealth by means of taxes and social benefits.
the lagg initiative
The LAGG initiative

the lagg initiative incorporating lessons
The LAGG Initiative (incorporating lessons)
  • Indicators are (inevitably) both descriptive and prescriptive … but put the weight on description
    • Why we’re leery of rankings.
  • Metrics work better when their the products and tools of a Policy Community: donors and governments alike, civil society & researchers
  • Use extreme caution with perceptions-based and composite indicators
  • Embrace the need for redundancy and multiple assessments