Book of the Day: Reputation-based Governance

* Book: Reputation-based Governance. Lucio Picci. Stanford University Press, 2011.


Author Lucio Picci uses interdisciplinary tools to argue that the intelligent use of widely available Internet technologies can strengthen reputational mechanisms and significantly improve public governance. Based on this notion, the book proposes a governance model that leans on the concept of reputational incentives while discussing the pivotal role of reputation in politics today. Picci argues that a continuous, distributed process of assessing policy outcomes, enabled by an appropriate information system, would contribute to a governance model characterized by effectiveness, efficiency, and a minimum amount of rent-seeking activity. Moreover, if citizens were also allowed to express their views on prospective policies, then reputation-based governance would provide a platform on which to develop advanced forms of participative democracy.” (

Stefaan Verhulst

Prof Picci argues that “an intelligent use of widely available Internet technologies would strengthen reputational mechanisms and significantly improve public governance”. In essence, the question at hand is how to leverage reputation or rating systems, used for on-line transactions by E-bay or more recently the car service Uber, to re-imagine governance mechanisms. The book is based upon previous articles, published in for instance First Monday, where he developed the connection between reputation systems and participatory governance (including participatory budgeting):

– To the extent that reputation–based governance gives voice to the people who are affected by the policies chosen by elected officials, and that it provides a framework to increase the accountability of the actors of governance, it can be seen as a set of procedures that, broadly speaking, make governance more democratic. Here, the effect on the “quantity and quality” of democracy is through the presence of ex post incentives: administrators and politicians would anticipate the increased level of accountability of their actions, and ex ante would presumably listen more to the needs of the people. Reputation–based governance also lends itself to an increase of participation by allowing forms of mixed direct–representative democracy, such as the ones that have been adopted, albeit without a central role of the Internet, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and in many other places around the worlds, to create a “participative budget” (Baiocchi, 2005). In fact, the availability of an information system as the one here envisioned would lend itself to innovative participative practices, where appropriate procedures allow the people also to express their opinion on prospective policies and to contribute to forms of collaborative design of policy options.

Craig Newark (Craigslist) opens the book “The Reputation Society” referring to reputation as part of the “immune system of democracy”:

– “Once the bugs are overnight cialis worked out, reputation and trust might be a key part of the immune system of democracy–a set of technologies and practices that help power, influence, and legitimacy to flow toward those who are willing and able to tackle the challenges that affect us all.”

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