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Spring 2011 - 61995 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Governance & Public Policy in a Globalizing World

Instructor(s): Lynn, Laurence E.
Unique Number: 61995
Day & Time: M 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.214
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.


Section Description

Governance refers to how actors are organized and managed in order to accomplish purposes they have in common. These actors may be multinational entities, governments, public agencies, private corporations, communities, or natural persons. They may be considered individually or in association with others. They may be public, proprietary. NGO/NPOs, quangos (quasi-autonomous governmental organizations), or combinations of these.   They may be related to each other hierarchically, contractually, as participants in networks, as signatories of treaties and agreements or in combinations of these ways.

The concept of governance thus applies to a single business corporation such as General Motors, an NGO such as Médecins Sans Frontières, or public agency such as the Transportation Security Administraation; to a particular country, to consociations such as the European Union, and to global entities such as the United Nations or the World Bank. Governance can be defined with respect to a shared purpose, such as international development or HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, or to a policy domain, such as homeland security or global climate control. 

Creating and sustaining effective governance is a major concern of policy makers in national governments and in regional and international organizations. The quality of governance is an issue in foreign and national security policy, international development policy, and virtually every domain of domestic policy. The sense of urgency infusing discussions of governance has as its sources both the globalization of the issues confronting national and international policy makers, from climate change to financial stability and terrorism, and the spread of democracy movements and democratic reforms, which accelerated following the end of the Cold War.

Policy debates concerning governance are lively and controversial. Many scholars and practitioners, for example, argue that, as a broad generalization, governance is becoming “post-bureaucratic” and that the boundaries between states and the institutions of civil society, especially in advanced democracies, are being redrawn to reduce government’s role. Others dispute this view and argue that trends in the forms and instruments of governance prove the adaptability, not the obsolescence, of traditional hierarchical/bureaucratic governance and confirm the path dependence of national institutional development. These and other issues raised in contemporary debates on governance in a globalizing world will be explored. 

The goal of this course is twofold. The first is to familiarize you with the many different definitions, concepts, and models of governance that will be encountered in discussions of public policies toward governance and governance reform in professional literature. The second goal is to equip you with the critical analytical tools and skills to evaluate the impact of various forms of governance, and of various proposals for governance reform, on the achievement of shared purposes and on the interactions between the state and civil society.    Why does governance take the forms and evolve in the ways that it does both nationally and internationally? How do systems of governance “work”?   How can we explain the success or failure of governance reforms? In the light of the answers to these questions, how can governance problems be solved?

Specific questions such as the following will be considered: Why did the United Nation’ “Oil for Program” in Iraq fail—or did it? Why did integration into the European Union have such different effects in Spain and Portugal? Under what circumstances should policy makers prefer (a) markets, (b) hierarchy, and (c) networks when designing public policies and programs? Why did Great Britain and Germany react so differently to the neo-liberal administrative reform movement called “New Public Management”?  How do supranational entities such as the European Union and those of the United Nations acquire their authority?

A number of concepts useful to the analysis and comparison of governance systems will be introduced. These include transaction costs, common property resources, veto players, path dependence, chain of delegation, and principal-agent problems. These concepts are useful in expanding one’s grasp of why we observe what we do in governance systems and how those systems might be changed to produce different outcomes.

Course Readings

Materials for the course, published journal articles, book chapters, teaching cases,  media articles, and documents are available on ERes (; or at other Web sites cited in the reading list.

Class Discussion

In general, the first half of each class will be devoted to discussion of the readings. You will be expected to come to class prepared with questions, critical comments, and insights based on the readings, which they will circulate to your classmates via the class listserv no later than the night before class. The second half of each class will be devoted to a discussion and analysis of assigned teaching and research cases.

You will be expected to participate in class discussions of issues raised by the readings and other assignments. Points for participation will be based on the quality (analytic insights, mastery of concepts, being on point), not quantity, of comments. 

You will be expected to attend each class. If you are unable to attend on any given day, you should notify the instructor in advance. You will be allowed one excused absence without penalty. 


You will be expected to complete the following assignments:

  • Questions/Comments on Readings: As discussed above, you are expected to circulate questions/comments on the readings by the night before scheduled classes;
  • Case Analyses: You will be expected to complete four case analysis memos of 3-5 double-spaced pages each (discussed further below);
  • Course Paper: You will be expected to complete a 12-15 double-spaced page analysis of an issue or problem of governance chosen by you (also discussed further below).

Grades: Your maximum score for the entire course is 100 points, which may be earned as follows:

  • questions/comments on course reading and participation in case discussions: 20 points;
  • case analyses: 10 points each, for a total of 40 points;
  • course paper: 40 points.
  • your final semester grades will be based on the +/- grade system, as approved by the Graduate Assembly. For more information, go to: