Thursday, October 20, 2005

Debating democracy and bureaucracy

A couple of activities this week. Discussion about different organisational dynamics and the strengths and weaknesses associated with particular forms of bureaucratic activity was discussed on Monday in my now-regular seminar. These included the strengths and weaknesses of four 'ideal' types, including bossism (where bureaucrats operate in a top-down fashion with an emphasis on standards), groupism (where peer pressure is paramount), competition (rivalry to encourage more effective output) and chancism (where randomness is the guiding principle). For those interested, Christopher Hood appears to be the one to read on this - and oh look, he's an LSE chap as well!

On Tuesday the Economist sponsored a debate on whether Latin America had 'citizens' democracies'. Speaking for the motion was the Economist's Latin American editor, Michael Reid, a Colombian academic and former government minister, Fernando Cepeda. Against was ISA's Maxine Molyneux (my old teacher) and Guilllermo O'Donnell - the main draw and the reason I attended.

The debate was quite laboured - it's a common discussion point regarding the region and not entirely original. And yet it is a good way in for those who are interested in Latin America but may not have a lot of knowledge about it.

What was most depressing (or positive if you're that way inclined) was the realisation as I looked around the room that the place was full of the Latin American scholarly and employment fraternity in London - academics, business risk associates (e.g. Global Insight and the EIU) as well as embassy staff. I caught sight of my supervisor in the corner, along with the rest of the teaching staff from the LSE's Latin American politics programme. Basically everyone's who's anyone was there.

Which in hindsight, probably called for a different motion for debate...

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