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Jocelyn Evans

Political parties use policy radicalism as a means of attaining electoral success. Differentiation from other parties and ideological renewal after a period of incumbency or prolonged opposition are valid reasons for policy innovation, but excessive radicalization has a number of detrimental effects, including mismanaging voter expectations. This article analyzes a number of examples of policy radicalization under the French Fifth Republic. It starts from concepts taken from policy mood and spatial competition models, and examines how French political parties of both Left and Right have overreached in their ideological stances, and thereby exacerbated political disenchantment among the French public. The article concludes by looking at the notion that mainstream politicians may not be acting in their own best interests when they radicalize the political agenda by misreading electoral competitive cues.

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Xavier Landes, Martin Marchman and Morten Nielsen

The social benefits expected from academia are generally identified as belonging to three broad categories: research, education and contribution to society in general. However, evaluating the present situation of academia according to these criteria reveals a somewhat disturbing phenomenon: an increased pressure to produce articles (in peer-reviewed journals) has created an unbalanced emphasis on the research criterion at the expense of the latter two. More fatally, this pressure has turned academia into a rat race, leading to a deep change in the fundamental structure of academic behaviour, and entailing a self-defeating and hence counter-productive pattern, where more publications is always better and where it becomes increasingly difficult for researchers to keep up with the new research in their field. The article identifies the pressure to publish as a problem of collective action. It ends up by raising questions about how to break this vicious circle and restore a better balance between all three of the social benefits of academia.

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Steven Weldon and Hermann Schmitt

Europe has been hit by a global financial crisis, and so has Germany. This crisis is associated, among European Union citizens, with the degree of support for European integration: those who are skeptical about the Euro and the debt crises in parts of the Eurozone tend also to be skeptical about European integration more generally. Our main question in this article is whether the pledges of political parties (as issued in their election manifestos) can add to our understanding of electoral choices in Germany. Relating German election results to the German data provided by the Comparative Manifesto Project MRG/CMP/MARPOR research tradition, our expectation is that political parties' European pledges have been irrelevant for the vote over half a century. Now that the European Union is rapidly moving in its postfunctional phase, the election of 2013 is expected to mark a turning point in that regard.

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Mary Taylor Huber, Joseph Heath, Rebecca Boden, John Craig and Christopher Newfield

Responses to ‘The academic rat race: dilemmas and problems in the structure of academic competition’, published in Learning and Teaching 5.2 from Mary Taylor Huber, Joseph Heath, Rebecca Boden, John Craig and Christopher Newfield

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Mobile Exceptionalism?

Passenger Transport in Interwar Germany

Christopher Kopper

The development of bus transport in European countries followed distinctly different paths. Unlike in the liberal economic regimes of the U.K. and the Netherlands, the German transport policy in the interwar years was characterized by a high degree of state intervention, of regulation and restrictions on inter-modal competition. The main purpose of the regulatory regime in Germany was to ensure the profitability of the national railroad, whereas the interests of passengers ranked second. Concessions for private inter-urban bus services were severely restricted by the political priorities for the railroad and the bus lines of the Postal Service.

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Going South

Canadians' Engagement with American Athletic Scholarships

Noel Dyck

This article examines the dynamics and implications of Canadians' pursuit of and ambiguous engagement with athletic scholarships offered to elite athletes by American colleges and universities. After sketching in the broader social and cultural context within which the movement of Canadian athletes to the U.S. occurs, it considers ways in which reckonings of high achievement in sport and other fields of performance tend to be constructed in Canada in terms of transnational and global comparisons. By examining how and why innumerable Canadian children and youths, with the assistance of parents and other adults, come to focus upon the pursuit of American athletic scholarships, this article seeks to penetrate an ambivalent form of competition that rewards its winners by taking them away from their families and country for a period of years just as they enter adulthood.

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Paul D. Hirsch and Valerie A. Luzadis

We develop a twofold approach to the development and utilization of policy-relevant knowledge. First, we propose that moving beyond competition to focus on compatibility may promote more effective interdisciplinary collaborations in the context of complex social-ecological problems. Second, we propose that attention to the policy affordances of a set of compatible hypotheses may inform the development of a more holistic and robust set of policy options. This twofold approach is modeled in our methodological approach, in which we have sought to discover how the concepts each of us have been developing are compatible with each other, and what affordances they might offer for improving translation across the science-policy boundary. We illustrate and apply our approach to the complex milieu surrounding the issue of lead paint toxicity. In addition, we draw on findings from focus groups with researchers involved in collaborations at the science-policy boundary to develop recommendations for productive and policy-relevant interdisciplinary collaboration.

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Helga A. Welsh

Characterized by a highly complex and segmented decision-making structure and strong conventions and values, German higher education was long considered impervious to significant change. In recent years, several initiatives demonstrate both the resistance to, and prospects for, profound reforms. This article focuses on two such endeavors: the establishment of junior professorships and the introduction of general tuition fees. Both policies aim to break ironclad traditions—in the first case, the entry qualification for professorships; in the second, the principle of free education. The discourse surrounding the establishment of these initiatives has emphasized performance and competition. The new advocacy coalitions and their opponents, however, use different frames to interpret these terms. The battle of ideas and policies regarding a reconfigured academic hierarchy has been shaped by stakeholders in the scientific community, with political actors taking a secondary role. On the other hand, the discourse surrounding the introduction of tuition fees reverses this order, with political actors taking the prominent role. Discourse patterns and involvement of political parties matter. The analysis reveals the competing rhetorical and policy frames that support policy diversity. Policy change adds to, rather than eliminates, existing structures.

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Christoph Egle

The result of the 2005 Bundestag election provoked difficult questions concerning the political positioning of the SPD. Should the Social Democrats negate the Schröder government's Agenda 2010 reforms in order to regain voters from the Left and envisage a government coalition with the Left Party, even though this party has been portrayed as "unfit to govern"? Or should the SPD stick to the center, at the risk of losing even more voters to its leftist competitor? Based on a theoretical concept of different party goals (vote, office, policy, and democracy-seeking) and strategic party behavior, this article explains why the SPD did not succeed in establishing a promising strategy with regard to these questions. This failure is caused mainly by the party's internal divisions and its severe leadership problems. In addition, the structure of German party competition and the institutions of federalism make it even more difficult to handle these problems with success.

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A John Barleycorn temptation

Behaviour of Siberian regions on the alcoholic beverages market (1999-2003)

Grigorii L. Olekh

This article considers the recent declining fortunes of the Siberian liquor producing and retail industry. Cheaper vodka 'imported' from regions outside Siberia has led to a loss of revenue from local excise duties. Some firms have gone bankrupt, and others are in serious financial difficulties as a result of unpaid debts to the Inland Revenue. There is also evidence of malpractice and corruption. There are signs, however, that the current difficulties are causing Siberian alcoholic drinks producers to join together and unite in adopting measures to combat the cheaper vodka imports.