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Article
The Measurer’s Dilemma: Coordination Failures in Cross-National Political Data Collection
Comparative Political Studies (2012)
  • Andreas Schedler
Abstract
Over the past decades, (mostly) private actors have been providing the public good of cross-national political data in a decentralized, uncoordinated, and unregulated fashion. They have been successful in generating an incessant supply of data. However, as this paper claims, the success of current practices of data production has been masking severe structural limitations: the systematic undersupply of data and the systematic inefficiency of data generation. Both types of problems derive from disciplinary coordination failures (“measurer’s dilemmas”). On the one hand, private data producers have been unable to coordinate the cross-national collection of two broad categories of data: political data produced by national governments (e.g., election results) and factual data that are not “observable from the outside” of national political systems, but require access to domestic sources of information (e.g., protest events). On the other hand, private data producers have been unable to construct regulatory frameworks that would reduce persistent inefficiencies in the collection of cross-national data: data privatization, data opacity, and data incompatibility. As the paper suggests in its concluding notes, if we are to get serious about resolving these structural problems, we will need to mobilize established collective actors, above all, our professional associations.
Keywords
  • measurement,
  • cross-national data,
  • data collection
Publication Date
February, 2012
Citation Information
Andreas Schedler. "The Measurer’s Dilemma: Coordination Failures in Cross-National Political Data Collection" Comparative Political Studies Vol. 45 Iss. 2 (2012)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andreas_schedler/13/