The Rise and Fall of Discipline: Economic Globalization, Administrative Reform, and the Financial Crisis


Alasdair Roberts is the Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and an honorary senior research fellow of the School of Public Policy, University College London. His most recent book, The Logic of Discipline: Global Capitalism and the Architecture of Government, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010.


Throughout the era of economic liberalization (1978–2007), a significant amount of governmental power was transferred to technocrat-guardians who were carefully buffered from elected officials. Democratic processes, it was said, had to be disciplined through such reforms if nations were to thrive in a globalized economy. This way of thinking about reform was already under assault before the financial crisis, and it was even more widely questioned during the crisis, as critics doubted the quality of technocratic decision making. This mode of reform—characterized as a “logic of discipline”—will survive the crisis, but it is unlikely to have the influence that it enjoyed during the era of liberalization.