Public Governance and the Classical Liberal Perspective

Co-authored with Paul Dragos Aligica and Peter J. Boettke, forthcoming at Oxford University Press [Oxford, Amazon].



Classical liberalism entails not only a theory about the scope of government and its relationship with the market but also a distinct view about how government should operate within its proper domain of public choices in non-market settings. Building on the political economy principles underpinning the works of diverse authors such as Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan and Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, this book challenges the technocratic-epistocratic perspective in which social goals are defined by an aggregated social function and experts simply provide the means to attain them. We argue that individualism, freedom of choice, and freedom of association have deep implications on how we design, manage and assess our public governance arrangements.

The book examines the knowledge and incentive problems associated with bureaucratic public administration while contrasting it with democratic governance. We argue that the focus should be on the diversity of opinions in any society regarding “what should be done” and on the design of democratic and polycentric institutions capable of limiting social conflicts and satisfying the preferences of as many people as possible. The book fills a large gap in the academic literature and the public discourse about how we should understand the nature and administration of the public sector.



Part I: A Distinctive Perspective on Governance: The Building Blocks

Chapter 1: Classical Liberalism: Delineating Its Theory of Governance

Chapter 2: Function, Structure, and Process at the Private–Public Interface

Chapter 3: Dynamic Governance: The Polycentrism Process and Knowledge Processes

Part II: Public Choice and Public Administration: The Confluence

Chapter 4: Public Administration and Public Choice: Charting the Field

Chapter 5: Public Choice, Public Administration, and Self-Governance: The Ostromian Confluence

Chapter 6: Heterogeneity, Coproduction, and Polycentric Governance: The Ostroms’ Public Choice Institutionalism Revisited

Part III: Framing the Applied Level: Themes, Issue Areas, and Cases

Chapter 7: Metropolitan Governance: Polycentric Solutions for Complex Problems

Chapter 8: Independent Regulatory Agencies and Their Reform: An Exercise in Institutional Imagination

Chapter 9: Polycentric Stakeholder Analysis: Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility

Conclusions: Governance and Public Management: A Vindication of the Classical-Liberal Perspective?