Controlling Modern Government

Controlling Modern Government

Variety, Commonality and Change

Edited by Christopher Hood, Oliver James, B. Guy Peters and Colin Scott

Controlling Modern Government explores the long-term development of controls over government across five major state traditions in developed democracies – US, Japan, variants of continental-European models, a Scandinavian case and variants of the Westminster model.

Chapter 5: Conclusion: making sense of controls over government

Christopher Hood

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy


Christopher Hood The issue was thus not one of interventionism versus laissez-faire, action versus inaction, authoritarianism versus liberalism, but of different forms of intervention, some more drastic and apparent, others more subtle . . . (Baldwin, 1999: 535) 1 INTRODUCTION In this chapter we offer three types of conclusions. First, we reflect on the idea that we introduced with a folk tale at the outset – and which is all too easily espoused by middle-aged professors facing new reporting and scrutiny regimes – that oversight and audit activity of various kinds over public services has grown dramatically over the last two decades or so, representing a new ‘age of inspection’ (Day and Klein, 1990: 4). There are cases and places that undoubtedly fit that pattern, as we have shown. But this study also shows that any such development has not been uniform across countries and policy sectors. We point towards a more nuanced conclusion of the type suggested by our epigraph, which is drawn from Peter Baldwin’s historical study of the various ways that nineteenth-century European states responded to a common problem, namely, contagious diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis and syphilis. This book shows that oversight explosions have taken place in some countries and policy domains but not in others. Some types and styles of oversight have declined as others have grown. And some of the most dramatic new developments in oversight described here, such as many of the university cases, have in fact been hybrid rather than ‘pure’ oversight. They link oversight with competition...

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