Applications are open: be the Next!

With the beginning of the new academic year  NextPA – Bocconi student association starts its recruitment!

Who we are

NextPA is an independent student association focused on the public sector, born within the Bocconi University from an idea dating back to the summer 2013. We are a group of students extremely interested in the Public Administration, public policies and in the world of institutions that govern our life as citizens: we felt the need to create an associative reality that did not exist before in Italy, where we could express our ideas and our interests. Ours is a constantly growing network with a growing international reach: year after year, more and more foreign students choose to enter our community, helping to make it an open, inclusive and multicultural space.

What do we do

Our activities are numerous and range from the organization of events with thick guests such as public managers, politicians and professionals, the organization of debates on the latest issues on the national and international arenas, the promotion of ad hoc content through social media and the consulting activity for external partners. In these years of activity, NextPA has had the opportunity to interface and work alongside important players such as the Open Government Forum, the Municipality of Milan, and many others.

You can apply to become part of this network and choose to dedicate yourself to the field that most interests you in our 4 thematic areas – Public Policies, Healthcare, International Organizations and Smart Cities -.

 

It will also be possible to apply for one of our open positions, and become part of our staff! This can be a great opportunity to acquire new skills and to participate proactively in the activities of the association. Currently positions are available in the management of human resources, communication, events and in the management of the four thematic groups; hurry up, and send your application!

 How to apply

The applications are already open. You can send your application by September 30 by sending an e-mail to our address as.nextpa@unibocconi.it, attaching a brief motivational letter.

For further information, write us at as.nextpa@unibocconi.it, or contact us directly on our Facebook page!

 

What are you waiting for? Join us and be the Next!

 

The regulation of political information in the fake news era

Written by Alexei Verkhovtsev

From a mysterious Russian influence in the United States presidentials to the more recent Italian parliamentary election, the criticisms of political information and its regulation have probably never been discussed so heatedly. As the dynamics of its spreading become more complex and as the importance and weight of political news in the determination of political outcomes increase, it becomes more and more of a challenge for the public administration to understand and regulate the different forms of political information.

It is certainly legitimate to ask oneself if political information should at all be regulated. It should first be understood that the regulation of the press and information in general is the wider issue, and that political information is but an instance, despite how critical, of this problem.

Being the system of the different means of spreading information something that we would all be very much worse off without and considering that with the spread of digital technology it is becoming progressively harder to make profit off informing people, it makes most sense to think of this system as a public good. Having made this step forward, we can then ask ourselves how and in what measure should the public administration intervene, should it nudge or shove, in order to keep the public good we just talked about in good shape, and, in particular, how should it intervene when politics is involved.

The 2nd of April the lower house of the Malaysian Parliament passed a bill outlawing fake news, the first measure of this kind in the world. The proposal includes jail sentences for those who produce or contribute to the circulation of misleading information.

While the recently discussed Malaysian legislation is more probably part of a political fight itself, being drafted just before the upcoming elections, and is being compared by some members of the opposition as the creation of a “Ministry of Truth”, it certainly is a good starting point for our discussion.

The problem with banning fake news (and it is the consensus that it’s the reason why the bill is expected to become law) is that it gives regulatory forces at least some margin of discretion over what is fake and, as a consequence of that, over what is true. That way freedom of speech has potential to be compromised and dominant political forces are given a tool to cover up their misdoings.

So, one obvious conclusion we can draw from the Malaysian example is that it is impossible to go too far in trying to think about information regulation (and political information is certainly the most desperate case) without facing a tradeoff between unlimited free speech and rules that can generate serious conflicts of interest through unclear criteria.

It certainly is the case that the problems of excessive regulation are balanced with enough scary possibilities that absent or insufficient regulation can give to those with the wrong intentions. Just think about the 2016 US presidential election. It is extraordinary how it could even be possible for external forces to significantly manipulate its outcome. In many instances massive political advertisement campaigns on social networks were paid for in Russian rubles, and nobody really noticed until after everything happened.

In Italy political communication is disciplined by law n. 28/2000, that is based on the principle of the par condicio, basically stating that political communication should be equitable and balanced (all parties should be given equal medial exposure) and introduces a set rules that should make sure that the par condicio is respected. For example, it is forbidden to publish results of polls in the fifteen days preceding the election, in order not to distort the result of the election (art. 8), and political communication can only take place in certain specified forms. Despite the law solving multiple problems, many critical issues remain, including those concerning the relationship with the financing of public parties.

As we try to explain political results that may seem unexpected or absurd to some (Trump, Brexit and Movimento 5 Stelle, just to mention the most talked about) we often talk about political communication, how its different forms should be regulated, how we live in a post-truth world and how people who spread fake news should be put in jail or sentenced to death. The question is certainly too complex to be solved in a short article, but as the ways in which information spreads evolve in unknown directions and new problems emerge, current legislation will also stop being a satisfactory solution and policy makers will surely have to start thinking about what to do fast.

 

Bibliography

  • As Malaysia Moves to Ban ‘Fake News,’ Worries About Who Decides the Truth, The New York Times, April 3, 2018
  • Fake news flourishes when partisan audiences crave it, The Economist, April 5, 2018
  • Legge 22 Febbraio 2000, n. 28 “Disposizioni per la parità di accesso ai mezzi di informazione durante le campagne elettorali e referendarie e per la comunicazione politica”

 

The view of an Asian-American on Governance: the patriotism paradox

Written by John Vincent Lapez Amador

 

What does it mean to love your country?

 

I come from the Philippines, a country that is full of people who claim to love their country. We were the first country in Asia to get rid of colonizers because of our “love for country”. But today, that same patriotism has now turned into a political tool by some governments and twisted by them to mean supporting the president or leader’s actions.

 

Similarly, we see this happening in the United States which is known for their sense of patriotism. That term “patriotism” has been co-opted by both sides, each arguing that they are the true patriots.

 

That brings me to the question, what does it mean to be patriotic? And more importantly, does it even matter?

 

What is Patriotism?

In the definition of the Cambridge dictionary, is “a person who loves the country and, if necessary, will fight for it”. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster defines it as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” With these two definitions, patriotism boils down to loving your country. This I believe is where the main divide occurs in the battle for “true patriotism”.

 

Does loving your country mean supporting its current government, the government its people elected, or is it supposedly fighting for what a country was built on? Here is the hill that millions die on when it comes to debates.

 

The true answer is that patriotism should never be the defining issue when it comes to governance, or political loyalty. This is because, a country consists of mainly two parts, the living and growing part, and the country’s historical roots. One example can be the United States, wherein we have the part that is built on the Constitution and its amendments, and the other part its people who sometimes fight against the constitution itself whether coming from the left or the right side of the political spectrum.

 

This then brings up what I believe to be the paradox that occurs when arguing about patriotism. The constitution can be amended to fit the modern day, therefore is it patriotic to support the modern-day government that may be against some ideals of the constitution it was built on, if the constitution itself was built to be amended and changed as necessary?

 

Similarly, what does it mean to be a patriot from the left side of the spectrum if the government is leaning towards the right? Does not supporting your country, nor not supporting the constitution due to a desire to change your country mean you are unpatriotic? Are revolutionaries unpatriotic? Here we see the main problem that arguing about patriotism brings about. There is no side that will be, and always be “true patriots”.

 

Whichever side you fall into, as much as possible, try not to fall into the argument of “who is the bigger patriot”, or “which side loves their country more”, instead focus on the more tangible, that is what way of loving your country is the best for most, that people believe in and/or are willing to work on. We each must remember that a country is not just an idea, or defined by a constitution but very much also based on each and every person.

 

As we live in what seems to be an increasingly divided world, remember that the person you argue with on facebook, or on twitter, has the same goal as you, it is all about channeling that love we call patriotism, to something we can all work on.

 

Big powers are back : what about Europe?

The 2017 has more than ever exposed the return of the great powers in the international scenario. If with the end of the Cold War the “game among big powers” seemed destined to run out, today it has instead regained the center of the scene.

The ISPI 2018 Report asks about the risks of this change, wondering what place Europe can occupy in a “world of big powers”. Inspired by this report, ISPI and Bocconi University propose a debate on global scenarios and on the role of Italy in contemporary dynamics. NextPA, together with other student associations of the University, takes an active part in the promotion of this event, inviting members and the public to participate.
The event will be held on April 10th at 6.00 pm at the Bocconi University, with guests Professor Valentina Mele, Professors Paolo Magri and Carlo Altomonte and Amb. Armando Sanguini.

The debate, held in English, will be entitled Big powers are back: what about Europe?

Not only shareholders

by Marianna Fatti

“Finanza d’impatto per nuovi bisogni sociali” (“Impact investing for new social needs”) was the title of the conference organised by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation on 27th February. The conference is the third one of the series “Un’Economia che verrà” (“The Economy that will be”).

The definition of social impact investing given by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is “Investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return”. Sounds revolutionary, isn’t it?

The conference organised by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation in collaboration Banca Prossima precisely aimed to explore these breakthroughs in the financial sector and the contribution they can give to social welfare through the work of social enterprises.

Guest speakers were Carlo Cottarelli, director of the Observatory of Italian Public Accounts, Carlo Secchi professor of European Political Economics at Bocconi University, Flaviano Zandonai, researcher at European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, Luca Fantacci, professor of History, Insittutions and Crisis on Financial System, and Giulia Sergi, fellowship manager at Ashoka Italia.

Prof. Cottarelli introduced the topic quoting again the GIIN with respect to the growth rate of the sector – Assets under management of impact investors have grown by 18% from 2013 to 2015 –and mentioning several trends that make impact investing momentous.

First, demographic trends such as aging and immigration, the continuous innovation in science and medicine, which improve life expectancy and conditions but also require higher budgeted expenditures, and climate changes.

These and many other issues increase the demand for welfare services, but public sector is less and less able to meet these needs. Accenture estimates for Italy a gap between public expenditure and demand for services of  $10 billions in 2015. Considering the increasing public debt of developed countries and competition among them for fiscal policies to lure multinationals, these budget is not likely not be covered by fiscal revenues.

Social finance can fill this gap with its “spillover effects”, said prof Cottarelli, but nevertheless public incentives are needed to go beyond the quest for the short term returns.

Prof. Secchi then remarked the difference between the traditional philanthropy and the modern approach to corporate social responsibility, which entails the concept of stakeholder engagement and see benefits for the company itself not (only) in terms of marketing. Indeed, this is the breakthrough of impact investing – part of the revenues of a financial institution are specifically earmarked for projects whose (social) impact is so valuable to generate returns to shareholders as well.

Transparency and accountability toward stakeholders was the aim behind the recent law about mandatory non-financial reporting of major multinationals. It is now time to measure the performances of these companies also with respect to dimensions such as ethical requirements for suppliers, gender equality, labour conditions.

Prof. Secchi concluded his contribution with two fundamental issues. First, how to spread this new approach to finance and radicalize it? And second, how to concretely measure the outcomes of such an investment?

Flaviano Zandonai tried to reply to the first remark, saying that it is necessary to embed social and cultural initiatives directly in the value chain, in a stable and continuative way. New models of enterprises and governance are needed, together with financial and legal support.

Examples of these new forms of economic agents are social enterprises and start ups. They overcome that trade-off between profit and positive social impact, and the distinction between profit and not for profit organisations since social enterprises can now share a small part of their profits with investors.

The financial sector is being reshaped by this new forms of enterprises, creating new dedicated intermediaries – such as Banca Etica or Banca Prossima – and instruments tailored to reward the social impact of a project.

Nevertheless Zandonai claims that there is still a mismatch between demand and offer of these innovative instruments due, paradoxically, to a low demand. Social enterprises indeed are in most cases small and after the first phases usually invest in day-to-day operations. Financial intermediaries should also support them in capacity building for envisioning, planning and programming, making them more autonomous when approaching financial sector.

There is the need, concludes Zandonai, to create more capital intensive models of social enterprises, appealing traditional investors as well and able to take advantage of new financial instruments.

If the financial system is supposed to remunerate it, said then Giulia Sergi, we first have to give a definition of social impact. Ashoka’s fellows generate a social impact when they recognise a social problem, analyse it to find its origin and create a solution to solve it at a systemic level.

Ashoka’s approach thus goes beyond traditional forms of measurement of social impact such as SROI – social return on investment – or the mere number of beneficiaries. It takes into account how social entrepreneurs reshape the research, the public policies, the local culture and business strategies.

In this way Ashoka distinguishes mere donations from investments, and is able to involve in the network multinationals and institutional investors.

Prof. Fantacci then suggests that the gap between demand and offer of credit is due to a lack of instruments rather than a lack of resources. Financial intermediaries can support social enterprises by simply being… intermediaries, between investors and new forms of companies, and better allocate existing resources.

There are two intrinsic risks when thinking when looking for additional resources for social projects rather than involving intermediaries. First, public sector may rely just on investors’ volunteerism, and secondly these investors may exploit social projects for marketing purposes – and this is, said provocatively Fantacci, what happened with subprime mortgages during 2008-2009 financial crisis.

In conclusion, all the guest speakers agreed about the need to develop new and more standardized tools to measure social impact, together with incentives from public institutions, in order to enhance the changes already in place in the financial sector.