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TRAFO blogpost

‘New metres for a wider world’ – Frank Mattheis on interregionalism and Global International Relations

TRAFO blogpost

China and the Africa Union – an entanglement between interregional and regional dynamics (photo credit: Antonia Witt).

The Blog for Transnational Research (TRAFO) has recently launched the publication of a blog series dedicated to the theme ‘Doing Global International Relations‘. GovInn’s Senior Researcher Frank Mattheis contributed the fourth blogpost to the series: New metres for a wider world: interregionalism and Global International Relations.

“Imagining new concepts, using new delineations, and experimenting with new measurements are ways to enter in dialogue with the global world so as to try to understand its essence. Are we ready to change a discipline and our own research, once we realise that the world is not the one our categories painted?”

Read the entire blogpost on the TRAFO website. More contributions to the series will be published on a weekly basis.

Social investments: The kind-hearted soul of capitalism?

By Frank Mattheis GovInn Senior Fellow

As the eyes of the British political elite are all on Scotland this week the report of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce, initiated by Mr Cameron last year, became second-tier news at best.

Yet, so-called social investments are the biggest trend among experts and practitioners trying to polish the dented reputation of capitalism. The Taskforce’s chair, venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen talks of uncovering the “invisible heart of the market”. The trick is to reconcile greed and ethics by creating more profits for capital being invested to resolve social problems. The Taskforce thus recommends all sorts of regulatory changes to financially reward those doing good for society. But simply, governments need to define the costs of undesired social phenomena. They then can create social impact bonds to offer investors appealing yields if the problem is solved with their money. If the measures of the bonds succeed in a given goal – e.g. preventing ex-convicts from reoffending – the state pays out returns from the spared social spending.

The idea seems brilliant because it is so simple. But there is a fine line between simple and simplistic. The core mechanism of social investment is to transforming reduction in national spending into private revenues.

Consequently, the ‘new paradigm’ presented in the report translates into an entire re-definition of public goods. The most urgent social problems are not identified by the society itself but according to how much of a drain they represent to public budgets. How much attention illiteracy or domestic violence receives would be determined by the yield assessment of investors.

Out of the box

On this blog, GovInn researchers, present and discuss their views on Governance Innovation