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Chapter 4 Ecologies of Governance as Social Technologies51 "adhocery... is a practice that need not be urged because it is the only one available to us" Stanley Fish (1999:72) Introduction It is not quite sufficient to disclose new worlds and to reflect on the requisite capabilities, skills, and assets for better concertation and governance. This has to be translated into particular arrangements capable of handling the governance challenges hie et nunc. As mentioned earlier, it is most effective to partition the problem into compartments, and to put in place ecologies of governance making the highest and best use—in an eclectic way—of all the possible instrumentationavailable. This poses "wicked" design problems. Gerard Belanger (2002) used the occasion of the current debates on the dilemmas posed by various proposed reforms for the governance of health care—many of which suggest some form of demonopolization, deconcentration, and decentralization—to suggest that one may not have as much margin of maneuverability as one might wish to have in such design work, and to argue that it is futile, for instance, to try to decentralize a centralized system. It is like trying to get a cat to bark. Belanger adopts Jane Jacobs's point of view (Jacobs 1992) that there is no meaningful middle ground between centralization and decentralization, that * In collaboration with Ruth Hubbard. 71 The New Geo-Governance they represent two different and self-contained syndromes of moral principles, that they embody dominant logics that are impermeable. In Jacobs's words, any attempt at commingling can only lead to "monstrous hybrids". Belanger's position—if onewere to accept it holm bolus—entails that anyreasonable person or group is always forced in all circumstances to make a Manichean choice and to bet either on a decentralized or on a centralized system. Belanger is aware of the starkness of the choice he proposes, and he suggests that some may well try to find ways to correct some of the most unfortunate consequences of such choices by adjustments inthe management and governance structures of the system. But such flats and sharps, he contends, cannot modify the dominant logic: it would simply attenuate, ever so slightly, some of the malefits. This approach, based on pure dominant logics, is both overstated and counterproductive because it fails to explain the real-life situations and to provide for the real-time choices that we know exist. Belanger dramatically underestimates the possibility of designing systems, and of systems emerging, that truly embody multiple logics, and the possibility of taking advantage of the benefits of both centralization and decentralization. In the next section, I provide a general critique of Belanger's argument, based on our daily observation of effective mixed organizational forms,both in nature and in society. In the following section, I show that "ecologies of governance" combine top-down and bottom-up logics very effectively, and I use the example of VISA in the private sector, and of regime-based federalism in the public sector, as illustrations of effective ecologies of governance. Finally, I identify some principles of design that might help interested parties in engineering an effective third way, avoiding the malefitsofboth hyper-centralization and hyperdecentralization . The single dominant logic syndrome as ideology At the centre of Belanger's argument is the idea that one cannot tinker with an institutional order that is fundamentally centralized with any hope of success due to the fact that the "single dominant logic" that inhabits any socio-technical system is overpowering. Any attempt to change the style of the socio-technical system is futile: the single dominant logic will ensure that these add-ons are absorbed, integrated, and transmogrified in the dominant direction. This either-or dynamic has some attraction. It emphasizes the integrity of socio-technical systems, and underlines the importance of acknowledging the power of this logic. Lachmann has indeed shown that the institutional order has some capacity to thwart efforts at modifying it, and that there is a Darwinian selection mechanism at work that often leads the system to reject alien accretions or transplants (Lachmann 1971). 72 Ecologies of Governance as Social Technologies However, this rigid perspective imposes an either-or framework on situations that could be classified as more-or-less situations most of the time. In fact, realtime systems are much less rigid and much less "integristes" than Belanger postulates. They are constantly evolving and have to adapt and adjust to ever changing circumstances. As a result, institutional metissage is a fact of life. Such...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780776617176
Related ISBN
9780776605944
MARC Record
OCLC
243584697
Pages
300
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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