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Interest groups in Venezuela: Lessons from the failure of a 'Model Democracy' and the rise of a Bolivarian democracy

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Abstract

This article uses the Venezuelan case to shed light on the potential role of interest-group systems in discrediting liberal democracies and to identify challenges that the region's democracies are likely to confront in constructing effective and fair interest-group systems. It first analyzes the role Venezuela's interest groups played in discrediting its 40-year two-party democracy. It argues that the discrediting of a system heralded by many as the region's ‘model democracy’ cannot be understood by merely assessing how the structure of the group system excluded certain groups. The study shows that the inclusion of certain business interests in visible positions of power also helped discredit the two-party democracy. The article then compares the above system with the new group system which has emerged since 1998 as part of a new democratic system inspired by Latin America's 19th century Liberator Simón Bolívar. This comparison reveals that the current system inverts the former system of inclusion and exclusion, even as it has retained a number of the old system's less virtuous features. The implications of the Venezuelan case for the region's democracies are elaborated in the conclusion. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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A common characteristic of knowledge-intensive business service (KIBS) firms is that clients routinely play a critical role in co-producing the service solution along with the service provider. This can have a profound effect on both the quality of the service delivered as well as the client's ultimate satisfaction with the knowledge-based service solution. Based on research conducted with an IT consulting firm and work done with other knowledge-intensive business service providers, this article describes clients' key role responsibilities that are essential for effective client co-production in KIBS partnerships. It then presents strategies that service providers can use to manage clients so they perform their roles effectively. By strategically managing client co-production, service providers can improve operational efficiency, develop more optimal solutions, and generate a sustainable competitive advantage.
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Latin American populism is generally associated with the developmental stage of import substitution industrialization; it is thus widely presumed to have been eclipsed by the debt crisis of the 1980s and the free market reforms of the neoliberal era. However, the leadership of Alberto Fujimori in Peru suggests that new forms of populism may be emerging despite the fiscal constraints of neoliberal austerity. This new variant of populism thrives in a context where economic crisis and social dislocation undermine traditional representative institutions, enabling personalist leaders to establish unmediated relationships with heterogeneous, atomized masses. Political support can be cultivated through populist attacks on entrenched political elites or institutions, along with targeted but highly visible poverty alleviation programs. This new form of populist autocracy complements the efforts of neoliberal technocrats to circumvent the representative institutions that are integral to democratic accountability. The Peruvian case thus demonstrates that populism has been transformed rather than eclipsed during the neoliberal era and that it should be decoupled theoretically from any particular phase or model of economic development.
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Market reform has dealt a serious blow to traditional alliances between governing parties and labor unions. This article examines the fate of these alliances by applying a revised version of Albert Hirschman's schema of exit, voice, and loyalty to party-union relations in Mexico, Spain, and Venezuela. After refining the concept of loyalty, the author argues that it is embedded in the principles and norms on which these alliances are based. Market reform places party-affiliated labor leaders in a "loyalty dilemma" in which they have no choice but to behave disloyally toward one set of claimants. Their propensity to respond with either voice or exit depends on their vulnerability to reprisals for disloyal behavior and the party's capacity to retain their loyalty even in the face of sacrifices imposed on workers and unions. Both variables are linked to the authority structures in which labor and party leaders find themselves. In the short to medium run the alliances most likely to survive are those in which labor leaders have significant autonomy from their bases and/or in which the party is able and willing to challenge its own executive. In the long run, however, even these alliances may be vulnerable to collapse because of popular frustrations with the inadequacy of interest representation and the multiple pressures on political organizations to adapt to a more fluid and uncertain environment.
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Governing parties face two fundamental tasks: they must pursue policies effectively, and they must win elections. Their national coalitions, therefore, generally include two types of constituencies—those that are important for policy-making and those that make it possible to win elections. In effect, governing parties must bring together a policy coalition and an electoral coalition. This distinction sheds light on how the transitional costs of major economic policy shifts can be made sustainable in electoral terms. It also provides a starting point for analysis of how two of Latin America's most important labor-based parties, the Peronist party in Argentina and the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in Mexico, maintained electoral dominance while pursuing free-market reforms that adversely affected key social constituencies. Peronism and the PRI are conceived of as having encompassed historically two distinctive and regionally based subcoalitions: a metropolitan coalition that gave support to the parties' development strategies and a peripheral coalition that carried the burden of generating electoral majorities. This framework permits a reconceptualization of the historic coalitional dynamics of Peronism and the PRI and sheds light on the current process of coalitional change and economic reform.
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The scholarship on total quality management (TQM) has provided little conceptual or pragmatic guidance with respect to the management of its adoption and diffusion throughout the organization. This dearth is especially pronounced with respect to the activities of organizational units which do not produce products to be purchased by customers in the consumer marketplace. This paper describes an exploratory research study which analyzed TQM attempts in one of these units, Public Affairs (PA). Using concepts from the scholarship on managerial innovation, the research focused on the factors which inhibit/facilitate TQM attempts in corporate PA.RésuméLes connaissances actuelles sur la gestion de la qualité totale (GQT) fournissent très peu d'orientation conceptuelle et pragmatique sur la manière de gérer l'adoption d'une telle démarche et son implantation dans tous les secteurs d'une organisation. Elles sont particulièrement lacunaires en ce qui a trait aux activités des unités organisationnelles non productrices de biens destinés au marché de la consommation. Les auteurs décrivent une recherche exploratoire ayant pour objet d'analyser diverses tentatives de GQT dans une de ces unités, les affaires publiques (AP). À l'aide de concepts tirés d'études scientifiques sur les nouvelles techniques de gestion, la recherche se concentre sur les facteurs susceptibles d'empêcher ou de faciliter les essais de GQT dans le service Affaires publiques d'une entreprise.
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In the unfolding knowledge-based economy, services do matter. But while they are increasingly seen to play a pivotal role in innovation processes, there has been little systematic analysis of this role. This essay presents a four-dimensional model of (services) innovation, that points to the significance of such non-technological factors in innovation as new service concepts, client interfaces and service delivery system. The various roles of service firms in innovation processes are mapped out by identifying five basic service innovation patterns. This framework is used to make an analysis of the role played by knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) in innovation. KIBS are seen to function as facilitator, carrier or source of innovation, and through their almost symbiotic relationship with client firms, some KIBS function as co-producers of innovation. It is further argued that, in addition to discrete and tangible forms of knowledge exchange, process-oriented and intangible forms of knowledge flows are crucial in such relationships. KIBS are hypothesised to be gradually developing into a "second knowledge infrastructure" in addition to the formal (public) "first knowledge infrastructure", though there is likelihood of cross-national variations in the spill-over effects from services innovation in and through KIBS, and in the degree to which KIBS are integrated with other economic activities. Finally, some implications for innovation management and innovation policy are discussed.