Governance in Regulatory Transition: Telecommunications and Banking in the Czech Republic, Portugal, and Serbia

Presnall, Aaron, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Lynch, Alan, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Licht, Sonja
Shoup, Paul, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Stephen, Paul

While a great deal of the discourse on the institutional design of representative governance looks to enhance the good of the people – there is little clarity on what exactly that good is. This project takes a different approach. It begins with a definition of social good and looks for the process that best achieves it. In contrast to the antipolitical top-down approaches of most current advocates of liberal economic policy, the twelve micro cases during the 1990s in telecommunications and banking regulation across the Czech Republic, Portugal and Yugoslavia show that open protracted deliberative politics is more effective at producing liberal policy objectives than closed quick administrative process. Open pluralistic systems tend to produce net positive outcomes. Closed systems tend to produce negative outcomes – of all ideological stripes. In both cases outcomes tend to reflect the distribution of actors at play in the regulatory process. The proposition that democracy is a superior mechanism for generating outcomes closer to optimal policy is nothing new. Weber defended liberal order from a purely procedural perspective, where democracy is seen as a means to allow expression of competing values in society. The United State's founding fathers were themselves tremendously instrumental in the identification of pluralism as a mechanism for positive outputs. Yet, we too often regard democratic process as a moral ideal, easily discarded when inconvenient, and belonging predominantly to the realm of political theory. Even professionals in the business of supporting young democracies regularly dispatch with democracy in practice as an inefficient mechanism or a professionally compromising "political" contamination. There is a clear professional consensus that democracy is a moral good, but the procedure of choice in the practice of building a democracy is often top-down diktat and centered on formal state institutions. This thesis demonstrates that democratic institutions fail to yield positive social outcomes absent an engaged and pluralistic polity. Thus, overseas democracy assistance must look beyond aid to formal institution building, easily measured and cheaply replicated, and on to the more complex task of support to pluralizing mobilized societies.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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