Governance: An Essential Frontier

by Raphael Bostic

Last week, we talked about wicked problems and found that part of the problem is implementation and governance. Another aspect of the governance problem is that the rules for making decisions and processes for reaching collective decisions have evolved in ways that have made governing more difficult.  A hallmark of representative democracies is the necessity of compromise and finding common ground among a diversity of views and perspectives.  And yet we have seen less and less of an appetite for collaboration and compromise in recent years.  There are many reasons for this, which we will touch on in upcoming entries, but the trend seems hard to deny.

Despite the dual nature of our crisis, academic institutions and the research community have placed far more emphasis on the challenges of designing solutions for our “wicked problems” than on ensuring that our institutions have the capacity and structures to effectively implement whatever policies are settled upon

Academia has generally not been an effective a voice in terms of identifying governance challenges, forcefully highlighting best practices, and encouraging policy-makers to consider them.  This is reflected in how we teach public policy and public affairs.  A USC student writing a background report on the state of policy implementation noted that very few public policy, public administration, and public affairs programs today require students to take a course on program implementation. (USC Price is a notable exception, I’m pleased to acknowledge.)  If we are to make progress with our government crisis, this state of affairs must change.

We, at the Bedrosian Center, will initiate a series of conversations and events focused on how we start to improve our governance and help alleviate our crisis of government.  We will engage high profile leaders, practitioners, and scholars who have insights on effective governance and create venues to have conversations that translate these into practical, and tractable, strategies for improving governance and the public enterprise.

Through these activities and partnerships with others, including Price’s prestigious leading research centers and professional associations, we expect to help change the nature of the conversation on public policy solutions and introduce an angle that has not been sufficiently emphasized.  We are optimistic that this collaborative and interdisciplinary approach can produce new strategies that generate positive change and lead to the implementation of good policy.

We hope you will come with us on the ride!

RB