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Review of Wampler, Brian. 2007.“Participatory Budget in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation and Accountability”

Review of Wampler, Brian. 2007.“Participatory Budget in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation and Accountability”
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  Book Reviews Bounded Rationality and Policy Diffusion: Social Sector Reform in Latin America.  KurtWeyland. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. 297 pp. $24.95 (paper)$60.00 (cloth). Given the ongoing processes of global integration, questions about policydiffusion have attracted much scholarly attention. Various studies stressthe influence of international financial institutions (IFIs), global norms, orforeign models in domestic policymaking. Kurt Weyland’s book brings alargely new perspective to this discussion, drawing on insights from psy-chology to stress the importance of cognitive factors as causal mechanismsin diffusion of policy innovations. Through a deeply researched study of pension and health care reforms in five Latin American states during the1990s, Weyland shows that cognitive limitations, especially “boundedrationality,” heavily influenced the ways in which policymakers chose,evaluated, and implemented social reforms. Weyland makes a strong casefor the role of cognitive heuristics in explaining policy diffusion anddraws important methodological conclusions about the limitations of rational choice approaches and the advantages of process tracing forstudies of policymaking.Weyland’s book, which is based on extensive field work and interviewswith policymakers and detailed process tracing for Bolivia, Brazil, CostaRica, El Salvador, and Peru, stresses three central cognitive processes. Firstis availability, the proximity of vivid reform models; second is represen-tation, a tendency to overinterpret initial positive results of reform; third isanchoring, a propensity to import a foreign model wholesale, withoutadapting it to local conditions. According to Weyland’s argument, LatinAmerican pension reformers, overwhelmed by information and facingcognitive limitations, focused only on the nearby, bold, and coherentChilean pension privatization model to solve the problems of their over- burdened pension systems, ignoring potentially better European reformmodels. They viewed the apparent early success of Chilean privatizationuncritically and overexpectantly, and adopted it wholesale to produce a“wave of reform” in the region, before becoming disillusioned by moreand better information. In health care there was no consensus reformmodel, rather diffusion of principles of efficiency and equity enhance-ment, which produced more disparate and piecemeal reforms. Here cog-nitive heuristics also mattered, with policymakers focusing selectiveattention on reform models that were readily available to them, their Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions , Vol. 22, No. 1, January 2009 (pp. 155–168).© 2009 The Authors Journal compilation © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 350 Main St., Malden, MA 02148, USA,and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK. ISSN 0952-1895  choices influenced by information networks, cultural affinities, and otherfactors.Weyland’s arguments weigh in several key debates. On the contentionsquestion of IFIs’ influence, his meticulous research adds to the evidencethat these seemingly powerful institutions cannot impose models even onsmall, weak, heavily aid-dependent states. Domestic actors have choices.At the same time his analysis is nuanced, showing that the World Bank caneffectively advance principles, make models available, and promote thespread of innovations. On the role of international norms, which areemphasized by constructivists, Weyland shows that new internationalstandards and concerns for legitimacy can influence policy areas wherereformsexpandprovision(i.e.,healthcare),buttheireffectsareblockedbyvested interests in areas that involve redistribution (i.e., pensions). Mostsignificantly, Weyland challenges the assumptions of comprehensiverationality, showing that policymakers do not seek out and evaluate infor-mation in systematic and balanced ways. Even the most expert are com-pelled by cognitive limitations, uncertainty, and time pressures to pursueinterests in ways that are often arbitrary, to take cognitive shortcuts, and toproduce suboptimal outcomes.Weyland’s study is somewhat less clear and convincing in its treat-ment of political and institutional factors, which he sometimes identifiesas context or setting for the workings of cognitive heuristics. In fact,even for pension reform, his strongest case for the determining role of  bounded rationality, political, and institutional factors have a major influ-ence on outcomes. Weyland convinces that the available Chilean modelset the agenda in all cases, but it was fully adopted only in Bolivia, Peru,and El Salvador because all three featured weak social security andpolitical institutions that could offer little resistance to the privatizingagenda, little independent capacity for expert evaluation or political con-testation. In Costa Rica and Brazil, according to the book’s accounts,privatization was modified or blocked by stronger social security institu-tions, political forces, and other factors. Weyland shows that much poli-cymaking goes on within bureaucratic state agencies and that cognitivefactors helped shape reform politics, but the relative strength of insti-tutions and political actors prove quite important in explaining patternsof diffusion. The specifics differ for health care reform, but politicaland institutional, as well as ideological and other factors, weigh in thecomparative outcomes.Overall—and this is more a strength than weakness of the book—Weyland tells a complex and often-fascinating story of policy diffusionthat recognizes a “synergy of various causal mechanisms” (17). Whilepensionreformcomesclosetofittingthecognitiveheuristicsframe,healthcare reform is more heavily influenced by IFIs and international norms.The difference stems ultimately from the nature of these policy areas, thegreater intrinsic complexity of health care. In fact, the book tells us thatthere will be no grand theory of diffusion, even in the social policy realm. 156 BOOK REVIEWS  At the same time, it convinces that cognitive factors play a key role inshaping policymaking.In sum, Weyland has written a major book that makes a compellingcase for the importance of bounded rationality in explaining policy diffu-sion. It is conceptually innovative, adds greatly to our knowledge, andstrengthens the case against the assumptions of rational choice method-ologies. The book will be of interest to specialists on Latin America, socialpolicy, and globalization; to a broad audience of academics, graduatestudents, and advanced undergraduates in comparative politics and inter-national relations; and would be very profitably read by policymakers andpractitioners everywhere. LINDA J. COOK,  Brown UniversityRemaking U.S. Trade Policy: From Protectionism to Globalization.  Nitsan Chorev.Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007. 256 pp. $42.50 (cloth). Nitsan Chorev’s volume provides an outstanding analysis of U.S. tradepolicy since 1934, which will be of definite interest for all scholars of tradepolicy and economic globalization. Building on historical institutionalism,the author’s main thesis is that U.S. trade liberalization came about because internationally oriented corporations managed to shape the insti-tutional rules guiding U.S. trade policy. The set of domestic and interna-tional institutions that resulted from the political struggles between liberaland protectionist forces shifted trade authority from political toward tech-nocratic actors and impeded protectionist interests’ access to decisionmakers. In turn, this influenced policy outcomes and led to the liberaliza-tionofU.S.tradepolicythatisacentralelementofeconomicglobalization.Empirically, the volume traces U.S. trade policy since the 1930s tosubstantiate the theoretical argument. Chorev views the Reciprocal TradeAgreements Act of 1934 and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Tradeof 1947 as important institutional changes that brought about a period of “selective protectionism.” During this period, Congress used protectionistpolicies selectively to satisfy the protectionist demands of decliningsectors, while the administration used the authority granted to it to moveU.S. trade policy toward trade liberalization. The move away from selec-tive protectionism comes in the late 1960s, when the U.S. saw the rise of protectionistsentiments.Inthischapterlargelybuildingonprimarydocu-ments, Chorev shows that the reaction by internationally oriented busi-ness and agriculture to this challenge led to the passage of the Trade Actof1974.Sheviewsthisactasadecisivevictorybyliberaloverprotectionistinterests, as the former managed to change the institutional structureshaping U.S. trade policy in a way that put protectionist interests at along-term disadvantage.The next chapter extends the argument to the period from 1974until 1994. This period, for which Chorev coins the term “conditional BOOK REVIEWS 157  protectionism,” was shaped by the fact that it was the administration andno longer Congress that intervened to satisfy the demands of protectionistindustries. The last empirical chapter then deals with the years from 1994until 2004. In this period of “legalized multilateralism,” according toChorev, U.S. trade policy was strongly shaped by the existence of multi-lateral trade rules. The creation of the World Trade Organization streng-thened the multilateral dispute settlement system and increased thelegalization of trade policy. With the U.S. administration’s influence overtrade policy reduced as a result of the existence of strong internationaltrade rules, the ability of all societal actors to shape trade policies has beenstrongly circumscribed. This mainly goes to the detriment of protectionistinterests, whereas the liberal forces managed to use the World TradeOrganization to improve access to foreign markets.Overall, this is a very strong volume that combines a clear-cut argu-ment with a detailed empirical analysis. Chorev provides substantial evi-dence for the not at all trivial point that U.S. trade policy since the 1930shas been shaped by a political struggle between international-orientedand protectionist economic interests. As with any study, not all aspectsof the argument are equally convincing, however. In particular, the roleof political institutions as an independent rather than intervening variablein propelling further liberalization, and in undermining protectionisttendencies, seems overstated. U.S. trade policy in the 1950s is the bestexample that casts doubt on Chorev’s institutionalist argument: At thattime, when the key institutional mechanisms that supposedly favoredliberal interests were already in place, U.S. trade policy turned protection-ist. Similarly, the current debate about the future orientation of U.S. tradepolicy, with most senior Democrats adopting the position that liberaliza-tion has gone too far, suggests that the political power of protectionistforces has not been broken.Moreover, the choice of carrying out a single-country, single-issuestudy comes with a series of drawbacks. For one, it means that Chorev’sattempt to frame the volume as a contribution to the broader literature oneconomic globalization is not completely convincing. Chorev emphasizesthat her “case study” shows that globalization is a political process thatcan only be understood by delving into domestic politics. The volumedoes not include a discussion of the extent to which this case studyis representative of the universe of possible cases, however. In fact, theUnited States’ exceptional role in the world economy throughout theperiod covered in the volume means that the United States is a most likelycase for the argument about domestic politics to apply.A case study of trade liberalization in a single country also fails torespond to the question why the United States was able to repeatedly findpartners to engage in trade negotiations. Given that post–World War IItrade liberalization was of a strictly reciprocal nature, U.S. trade liberal-ization would not have occurred had there not been other countrieswilling to exchange concessions of market access. A comparative study 158 BOOK REVIEWS  might have shown that trade liberalization should be understood as aninterdependent process, in which the trade policies chosen by one countrycan only be understood by considering the trade policies chosen by itstrading partners.These critical remarks should not be taken to detract from my positiveevaluation of the volume. They are, rather, an indication of the difficultiesthat naturally come with the demanding aim of explaining nearly acentury of U.S. trade policy. ANDREAS DÜR,  University College DublinThe Architecture of Government: Rethinking Political Decentralization.  Daniel Treis-man. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 348 pp. $85.00 (cloth). This ambitious, complex and important book examines more than a dozencommonly cited arguments about the general effects of political decen-tralization. Political decentralization is currently very much in fashionamong both academics and policy practitioners around the world, itspopularity fueled by its supposed benefits. Decentralization is said—among other things—to stimulate policy innovation, to protect individualfreedom, to promote healthy competition among local governments, toincrease citizen participation in politics, and to enhance accountability.Employing formal modeling and game theory, this book evaluates theunderlying logic of these and several other arguments about the effects of decentralization.Daniel Treisman’s conclusions are striking: Not just one or two, butvirtually all of the arguments that he examines fail to withstand logicalscrutiny. Treisman deploys the apparatus of formal modeling in masterlyfashion, exposing the unrealistic assumptions and logical inconsistenciesthat underlie various causal claims. That said, Treisman does not concludethat decentralization is generally bad—indeed, he examines two argu-ments about the purported dangers of decentralization and finds thesewanting as well. Rather, he concludes that, for the most part, there is nological reason to expect that decentralization will have any generally pre-dictable effects. Readers looking for a comprehensive review of empiricalevidence will not find it in this book. One chapter briefly reviews cross-national empirical studies that corroborate the results of Treisman’s analy-sis, but the book is, at heart, a work of theoretical criticism. The modelingapproach may make the book heavy reading for some, but engaging withit is well worth the effort. This is a landmark contribution to the literatureon decentralization. It should be read widely by researchers and policypractitioners, as it convincingly lays to rest a number of facile but influ-ential generalizations about the effects of decentralization.Unified by its overall conclusions, this book nonetheless consistsof a series of discrete analyses. Some arguments are treated in stand-alone chapters, while other chapters examine two or more related claims. BOOK REVIEWS 159
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