How do public administrators find information about the problems they confront at work? In particular, how and when do they reach across organizational boundaries to find answers? There are substantial potential obstacles to such searches for answers, especially in a system of decentralized governance such as the U.S. government. In this article, we examine the alternative mechanisms within the public sector that compensate for this dispersion of expertise, focusing on knowledge sharing across public DNA forensics laboratories. In particular, we propose that the emergence of informal interpersonal networks plays an important role in providing access to necessary expertise within a highly decentralized system. Our findings point both to the need for further research on knowledge sharing networks within the public sector as well as practical implications around the value of investments into facilitating the creation and maintenance of networks of practice.
The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 was a watershed event that ushered in both a new era and a new fiscal regime for California’s local governments. We argue that, in the wake of follow-on initiatives, a protracted recessionary period, and the state’s use of newly authorized revenue-transfer powers, this still-evolving regime entered a new phase in the 1990s. This article analyzes the primary impacts of and responses to the changes in California’s post-Proposition 13 fiscal regime in the 1990s in five local jurisdictions. The results reveal that the most significant long-term impacts of this regime have been an altered fiscal structure and an unintended decrease in local home rule. These impacts, in turn, have led to cuts in non-essential services, the expansion of sales tax-generating redevelopment efforts, implementation of new taxes and user service fees, and increased reliance on one-time fiscal measures.
Kaufman's research on the "immortality" of public organizations has led us to believe that the population of organizations in government is very stable. The research reported here finds Kaufman's work to have some serious flaws. With a different data base and different methodology, the findings are that there was a great deal of change in the U.S. federal government in the period of 1933 to 1983.
A key debate in the study of the American presidency concerns the determinants of presidential decisions. Traditionally, decisions were seen as the result of persuasion-bargaining. President-centered factors, such as the preferences of the man who occupies the office and the relationships between his senior advisors determined presidential decisions. Recently, the field has made a transition to institution-based models, in which each president and his advisers are rational actors responding to the political and legal forces that frame the office. This essay suggests a research agenda that incorporates both approaches. The Garbage Can model of decision is used to illustrate how the foreign policy process is an organized anarchy; decision making is the intersection of four streams–choice opportunities, problems, solutions, and participants. The model helps identify both institutional and persuasion-bargaining variables and highlights their interactions as streams are connected to produce policy. Clinton administration decisions on trade with China in 1993-1994 are the focus. Overall, a useful metaphor for decision making is to see it as a game. Institutional forces establish the rules, define most of the players in the game and their relative power within the game; how the rules are used, manipulated, interpreted, or compromised depends on the idiosyncratic beliefs and political skills of the players involved. In this case, differing perceptions of China held within different institutions competed through a legal and political framework, but the ultimate outcome depended on the decision making and deal making skills of the key officials, including the president.
This article examines the intellectually and pragmatic challenges posed by the economic crisis of 2008 on public administration and public policy. It will be argued that we need to confront 5 major challenges that will,hopefully, provoke a more lively debate in the field about the substantive implications of this economic crisis. While these 5 challenges are hardly exhaustive, such challenges may force us to ask different questions that could elevate and enrich the intellectual enterprise we aspire to be.
What function does accountability serve in public-private partnerships where one partner has no authority over others and no control over results? This article aims to shed light on this question by studying participants of partnerships formed between K-12 public schools and private and/or nonprofit organizations. Findings support the notion that accountability plays a greater role in public management than indicated by the idea of answerability. Five potential functions of accountability are identified: mapping and manifesting expectations, mobilizing and motivating (ex-ante), monitoring and measuring progress and performance, modifying, and mobilizing and motivating (ex-post).
This article illustrates the concepts of morality policy and politics by examining the 1996 Title V federal grants for abstinence-only sex education. Drawing from the existing literature on morality policy and politics, it includes a theoretical framework for the study of morality policy and an analysis of abstinenceonly education as it was shaped at the federal, state, and local levels. Using the example of Title V in Kentucky, this case study well illustrates the expectations of conflict in adoption and controversy in implementation of morality policy. Furthermore, it provides an admonition for practitioners about compromise in even the most contentious morality policy battles.
Fiscal transparency and citizen participation in budgeting processes are widely promoted as means toward the ends of democratic accountability and responsiveness in the allocation and use of public funds. In the past decade, academics and practitioners enthusiastic about e-government have emphasized the potential for using information technology to enhance democratic governance. Putting these two streams of public administration theory and practice together, the authors developed criteria for assessing e-budgeting efforts and applied them to a sample of Web sites operated by state and local governments. Although practitioners are ahead of academics in exploring the potential of e-government for improving fiscal accountability and responsiveness, practice lags behind the relevant basic recommendations of the Government Finance Officers Association. This finding leads to research and practice agendas aimed at enhancing the use of e-government to enhance fiscal transparency and participation.
Procedures intended to provide accountability in relationships between governments and nonprofit organizations often focus on ways to catch and punish mistakes rather than on ways to improve service to the public. Usually, this is because the parties create their expectations for the relationship independently. However, many public services can be improved if governments and nonprofits work together to learn what needs to be done to address public needs more effectively. Mutual accountability involves key stakeholders in dialogue to determine responsibilities, authorize discretion, establish reporting procedures, and create review processes for the relationship. Mutual accountability requires extra time and effort but may be appropriate when the parties are unclear about how best to address public problems and when they have altruistic values.
The fiscal crisis encountered by state-local governments since 2008 has again made prominent the issue of how to better prepare for and stabilize expenditures during recessions. Does the economic stabilization function of government, and its theory, still hold? Previous studies focus on federal and state levels; only a few look at local governments. This article explores whether localities save and spend across the boom-bust cycle; we intend to identify determinants of local government savings and estimate the impact of savings on stabilizing expenditures. Unlike some early evidence that shows counter-cyclical stabilization properties of local unreserved general fund balance, the empirical results of our study on North Carolina counties do not support the stabilization role by localities. This study carries timely and important implications for state/local policy making and financial operations; it also adds to the literature on the stabilization function of government.
Forty years ago, Herbert Simon reminded public managers of the limits of rationality, or the bounded rationality, of the individual decision maker. New analytical techniques from the sciences of complexity now provide a means to measure the complexity in the environment of public managers using actual organizational data. Time series analysis is used to examine data from the external environment of two urban police divisions. Results of the analysis reveal that the complexities of the environment of public organizations may serve as an inhibition to rational decision making that extends beyond the limits of the individual proposed by Simon.
Public administration has regularly reached across the divide between public and private to import ideas and practices from private business, yet ideas of home rarely make their way into administrative theory. Inspired by the “city as a home” thinking of progressive-era social reformers, this article explores conceptual barriers and generative possibilities. It suggests, first, that home vivifies aspects of administration that foster caring concern for human development. Second, drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt, it argues that despite Arendt’s dim view of the household, an ontology of home furthers her vision of action—public spirited speech—in administrative practice.
Published 30 years ago, my article on “Public Administrative Theory and the Separation of Powers” introduced what is often called the “three perspectives” approach or framework for understanding public administration at a macro-level by viewing it through the lenses of management, politics, and law. Each of these perspectives is anchored in a function of government—execution, legislation, and adjudication respectively—which at the U.S. federal level is housed primarily in the institutional structures of the executive branch, Congress, and the courts. The article has been reprinted several times in edited works and widely cited while the textbook elaborating on it, Public Administration: Understanding Management, Politics, and Law in the Public Sector (1st ed., 1986), has gained widespread adoption. The present article reflects on what the three perspectives framework did, did not do, and whether it is useful in application to the vast changes in public administrative thought and practice that have occurred since its publication. Specifically addressed are whether the framework retains utility in the wake of reinventing government and the advent of collaborative governance as well as how it might be strengthened to inventory and cumulate public administrative knowledge in the future.
The study of ethics in public administration, as evidenced by the five books reviewed here, is characterized by a number of assertions about human behavior (some of them conflicting) and at least one major omission. This essay identifies these assertions and the omission to improve our thinking about ethics and the ability to do what's right.
Neopragmatists in public administration (PA) consistently argue that neopragmatism upgrades regular pragmatism. This claim rests on the contention that pragmatism is host to epistemic foundationalism, which undercuts legitimacy in PA. This article provides a new refutation of the upgrade claim, dissolving the hard-link constructed between epistemology and legitimacy by articulating theory-pluralism in research methods. Haack’s “Analytic Framework” is advanced as a useful conceptualization of epistemic debates in PA, and Laudan’s philosophy of science is advanced to provide a productive conceptualization of PA’s theory competition. Theory-pluralism is then applied to a variety of research areas in PA, demonstrating the need for an approach that harmonizes PA’s competing research traditions under the broader goal of problem resolution in PA.
Over the past decade, the federal and state governments have made large financial investments to improve election administration, but there is little to no understanding of the real workings and implications of election administration finance. This article takes a first look at election administration finance by examining election expenditures in California counties for fiscal years 1992 through 2008 using a public sector cost model. Regression analysis shows that economies of scale and voting technology are significant determinants of election expenditures, as are other factors affecting the cost of the production of election administration. Factors that are expected to affect the demand for election administration are generally shown not to be significant. These results will hopefully be beneficial for policy makers as they face important decisions about changes in voting technology and election administration.
Link to the full paper: http://arp.sagepub.com/content/43/5/518.short
This article deals with the emerging concept of Employee Engagement (EE) and its meaning for public administration research and theory. Generically, EE reflects a positive, fulfilling, affective-motivational, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption. In an attempt to understand whether the concept of EE is meaningful for public administration research and theory, we examine its essence and foundation using a comparative method. First, we compare EE with two well-established employee–organization relationship (EOR) concepts: Affective Commitment (AC) and Job Involvement (JI). Second, we compare EE in public versus private sector employees, and finally, we compare the concept in employees and managers in the public sector. Our study is based on an interactive sample of 593 employees and managers from both the private and public sectors in Israel. The results support several hypotheses. First, EE is an empirically distinct construct compared with other EOR concepts. Second, EE is higher among public sector employees than private sector employees. Third, EE is higher among public managers than public employees. Implications of our findings and recommendations for future theoretical and empirical studies of EE are discussed.
Link to the full version: http://arp.sagepub.com/content/43/5/518.short
Although traditional models of bureaucratic politics have relied on the old assumption that information is expensive, information is prevalent nowadays; the monopoly of bureaucratic expertise has been undermined as interest groups have significantly developed and are professionalized. As a result, what is really important in current bureaucratic politics is not just neutral expertise, but the political capacity to affect the behaviors of information sources. Through mediating conflicts of interest and minimizing unnecessary contingencies, agencies can persuade their stakeholders not to provide information to legislators and, therefore, indirectly affect legislators’ decisions on delegation and oversight. Different from traditional principal–agent theories, this article suggests the “administrative broker” model in which politically influential agencies can block information leakage to legislators and enhance their own discretion. Moreover, the administrative brokers occasionally transform traditionally hostile principal–agent relations into more favorable ones.
The hiring of chief administrative officers, also known as city administrators, in municipalities with the mayor–council form of government has contributed to the professionalization of these city governments. Although some observers suggest that the role of city administrator is the functional equivalent of city manager, survey responses from 276 persons who have held both jobs note similarities and important differences.
Interest in performance management has never been higher. But what does actual research on this topic tell us about the effects of performance management, reform efforts, and governance more generally? Historically, the answer often seemed to be that such reforms did not work very well. This article focuses on a recent chapter in the history of performance management at the U.S. federal government, the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). PART was created by the George W. Bush administration, and ended by the Obama White House. PART, like many management initiatives, came and went. What distinguishes it, however, is the quality and breadth of the research it prompted—research that has increased our knowledge of performance management and reform implementation as well as a whole host of fundamental governance phenomena such as political ideology, administrative burden, performance information use, leadership commitment, and goal ambiguity.
While studies in public management have identified personal attributes, job characteristics, and organizational rewards as key factors that influence affective organizational commitment, limited attention has been paid to the influence of social networks on affective commitment. Given that organizational attitudes and behaviors are often socially constructed, this paper argues that employees’ affective commitment is influenced by their social networks in an organization. What are the social network configurations that lead to affective organizational commitment? This study attempts to answer this question by focusing on nonlinear relationships between several network dimensions (i.e., network centrality, tie strength, and structural holes) and affective commitment. These relationships are empirically tested by using both social network data and employee survey data collected from two local governments in South Korea. Results of the study show that employees’ network centrality has an inverted U-shaped relationship with affective commitment and structural holes have a U-shaped association with affective commitment, controlling for certain organizational rewards and individual attributes. However, the relationship between a tie strength and affective commitment is not statistically significant. The practical and theoretical implications of the study findings are discussed.
The purpose of this study is to probe the main determinants of organizational trust, as identified in the relevant literature: cognition-based (i.e., rational) trust and affect-based (i.e., relational) trust. This study explores the nature of trust among public employees and identifies important antecedents and moderating conditions based on systematic and rigorous empirical research. Using large data sets from Merit Principles Survey (MPS) and Best Places to Work (BPTW), as well as drawing upon the scholarly works from several disciplines, this study develops an antecedent-trust model and analyzes the different types of antecedents of organizational trust in the public sector at a hierarchical and multilevel ordering structure. The focus of the study is empirically testing the effects of vertical and shared leadership behaviors and work motivation attributes on organizational trust within U.S. federal agencies. In addition, the moderating impact of leadership on the relationship between work motivation and organizational trust is examined. This research finds that some of these predictors and moderators (e.g., vertical and shared leadership behaviors) play significant roles in fostering organizational trust directly and indirectly. Based on a discussion of the main findings, research and practical implications for public management theory and practice are provided.
Do agency officials hold influence over the policy decisions made by state legislators and governors? For years, scholars have asserted the important informational role that bureaucrats play within the U.S. policy-making process. However, we have only limited knowledge of the theoretical mechanisms that may allow for this influence, or ultimately, whether this influence matters to public policy outcomes. We theorize that the political oversight of the bureaucracy by elected officials not only constrains the bureaucracy but also provides a pathway for agency officials to advance their preferences by communicating their policy expertise. We assess this argument with survey data from almost 600 state agency heads, drawn from the 50 states and across all agency types. Using a multilevel model, we find that the “oversight mechanism” is a key driver of agency influence over gubernatorial policy decisions; however, it does a poor job explaining agency policy influence within state legislatures. These results suggest that oversight allows agency leaders greater success in lobbying governors than more diffuse and diverse state legislatures.
The aging of the Baby Boom generation, combined with the success of the New Public Management in downsizing the federal government, has led to a rapidly aging federal service, a reduced flow of new blood with creativity and updated skills (Lane, Wolf, and Woodard, 2003), and a looming “tsunami” of retirements that is forcing the federal service to reconsider many of its human resource practices. The difficulty of obtaining good data has severely restricted our ability to measure the extent of the problem in the state government workforce. We examine the changing age distribution of that workforce using the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census 5% Public Use Microdata Samples and the 2001-07 American Community Surveys, and find that state workforces are even older and have aged more than the federal civil service, suggesting that they may experience the retirement tsunami sooner. We also examine the effects of this aging on institutional memory, race/ethnicity/gender diversity, and educational qualifications.
Although much has been written about interlocal agreements for the delivery of services, few studies have examined the factors that influence the establishment of different types of multilateral agreements (MLAs). To address this lacuna, the authors draw a distinction between an adaptive and restrictive MLA and seek to understand why local governments enter into one type of arrangement over the other. The authors build our theoretical argument on the basis of previous research that suggests agreements are designed to minimize the uncertainties associated with transaction risk. On the basis of this premise, the author’s general proposition is that the decision to establish an adaptive MLA is shaped by the asset specificity and measurability of the goods and services of the transaction. The authors utilize data on public safety agreements among municipal and county governments in the state of Florida. Findings suggest that local governments are more likely to form an adaptive MLA when goods and services are relatively high in service measurability difficulty and when both high and low asset specificity exit.
We analyze panel data of U.S. states to determine whether nonprofit contribution and program service revenues are correlated with state tax burden. State tax burden is modeled as a function of (a) state tax policy, (b) nontax policy factors that affect state income, and (c) other exogenous factors that are independent of state tax policy and do not directly induce income; regression results reveal correlations with variables in all three categories. Intergovernmental revenue (IGR) paid to local governments, debt burden, tax exporting, a tax revenue limitation, and nonprofit revenue are most consistently correlated with state tax burden. Financial support for nonprofits in the form of contributions helps to reduce state tax burden and does so at a meaningful level. This finding implies nonprofits provide goods and services that are supplementary to government provision. However, the supplementary nature of nonprofit service provision is not universal. Further analysis of contribution and program service revenues for nonprofits in particular service categories finds either no correlation with state tax burden, a reduction in state tax burden, or an increase in tax burden imposed on state residents over time. By controlling for factors influencing demand for service provision and state tax policy changes, the regression results also provide evidence that government acts as a free rider.
The Challenger and Columbia similarities in management decision making with regard to the ill-fated shuttle mission failures bear scrutiny. Key aspects of both tragedies include senior-level managers ignoring the advice from experts within the NASA organization leading to tragedy. NASA is typical of modern organizations in the tendency to relegate worker knowledge below that of managers and executives. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board has determined that the organizational/management culture was a key factor in the demise of the Columbia. The author argues that culture, although an important contributor to the tragedy, is inadequate for assessing the problem. Differences in knowledge between executives, managers, and the workers are key to unlocking the central problem of the NASA organization. The author uses and develops the theoretical approach that delves into multiple knowledges in organizations that is known as the “knowledge analytic.”
Federalism involves allocation of powers between units of government at different geographic levels. In local areas, changes in relationships between units of government may be effected through incorporation or disincorporation, annexation, formation of new layers of government, or interjurisdictional agreements. It may be difficult for residents who seek change to achieve it through alteration of jurisdictional boundaries or intergovernmental hierarchical relationships, however, they may gain similar benefits through intrajurisdictional arrangements such as neighborhood organizations. Such strategies of change from within are common, however, in an interesting variation, failed efforts at forming new jurisdictions through secession from the City of Los Angeles have occurred during startup of a neighborhood program intended to give greater voice to subjurisdictional areas. The article examines this situation, suggesting that formation of intrajurisdictional units may operate as an alternative form of local federalism.
Following the conceptual framework developed by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, which is based on three broad dimensions of sustainability, flexibility and vulnerability, this paper proposes a method for evaluating the financial health of municipalities. This methodology could be useful for performance assessment in any country and framework. An aggregate indicator has been obtained for each municipality that covers all the aspects analyzed. For this, multivariate statistical techniques of principal component analysis and discriminant analysis are combined. The proposed method overcomes the problem that we detected in the literature related to the weighting of variables, optimizing the measurement of the variability of all indicators that are included in the financial condition. The indicator evaluates and ranks the degree of financial health of each municipality and serves as a tool to study how different factors might have an impact on its financial health. The performance of the indicator has been contrasted with the socioeconomic variables of population size and geographic location. The proposed method has been applied to 5,165 Spanish municipalities.
Ensuring accurate, unbiased residential property tax assessments is an important, and contentious, issue facing communities today, particularly in this era of fiscal and economic crisis. Furthermore, this question is critical because it involves important social justice issues. Past studies have shown inequities by race, class, and location with some neighborhoods paying more of their fair share in property taxes. This study looks at the reliability of tax-assessment data in a medium-sized American city—Louisville, Kentucky. In an effort to compare various housing data sources, this study contrasts three measures of neighborhood median housing value for 170 census tracts in Louisville in the year 2000: self-reported values (U.S. Census); sales prices (MLS); and tax assessments from the county’s property valuation administrator. We find that the effects of various neighborhood characteristics on the three property measures do not vary by measure. Furthermore, an assessments-to-sale ratio does not vary by traditional indicators of neighborhood distress including racial composition and proximity to the inner city. We conclude that assessments in Louisville are not biased by neighborhood and argue that several aspects of policy and administration present in Louisville make for more accountable and fair assessment practices—including tough state statutes, the election of the chief assessor, the use of aerial technology to view improvements, public transparency, the use of sales prices in reassessing properties, and the willingness to reassess downward communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis.
The expansion of e-government is reshaping how disadvantaged groups access the social safety net, yet very little is known about clients’ experiences with modernized systems. We examine client experiences applying to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program in one state that has recently moved to an “online-only” system. Overall, more than half of the 26 applicants stated a preference for the traditional caseworker model, even though some of them identified benefits to the modernized, online system. Based on respondents’ experiences, we identified four points where the system proved problematic for applicants: (a) Accessing the call centers; (b) completing an eligibility interview; (c) using the paperless system to submit documentation; and (d) obtaining personal assistance to complete the application materials. Findings are relevant for state administrators of social safety net programs, e-government researchers in the public management and public administration fields, and social stratification researchers interested in how institutional processes influence patterns of inequality.
Outsourcing public service provision to the private and nonprofit sectors has been well-documented and studied for over two decades as manifestations of the hollow state, but there is a relatively new phenomenon at local levels of government that has until recently eluded the attention of researchers in public administration and policy: private governments. Increasingly, U.S. citizens are far more likely to reside in a development operated by a homeowner’s association, rather than (or in addition to) a city government. Services are provided by these private entities, funded by association dues, and governed by covenants, conditions and restrictions, drafted largely by developers. As administrative units, how do these developments interact with local governments? Using data from the first national survey of large homeowner associations, we present evidence that their perceptions of local government are significantly influenced by the degree to which they set themselves apart in private enclaves, and we offer some recommendations for further research of the implications that these perceptions pose.
The public administration literature has paid scant attention to bureaucratic errors as performance measures. This has largely been due to a lack of data. Unlike most programs, the unemployment insurance (UI) program has systematically collected performance data and has independently audited those data to determine error responsibility (employer, employee and agency error). In the first comprehensive analysis of these data we examine the probability that a bureaucrat makes an error and theorize about the reasons for these errors. Our findings indicate that the previous UI office error rate is a good predictor of current error rates, demonstrating that poor performers remain poor performers. Additionally, local offices with high error rates account for a disproportionate percentage of the errors, indicating a need to examine agency management. Secondly, errors are more commonly made on cases involving white UI claimants and claimants with a college education. Finally, we find that claimants, who have higher self-valuation, are less likely to experience agency errors. Taken together, these results point to systematic agency errors. Public managers and the unemployed would be better served if training efforts and performance targets were developed with these systematic error effects in mind.
Work attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, job involvement, organizational commitment, etc.) have long been important indicators for managers and researchers in evaluating whether one is motivated to work. Existing empirical studies tend to suggest that public managers are less likely to exhibit positive work attitudes as compared with their private sector peers. However, literature about the comparison of work attitudes between public and nonprofit managers is scant. The current study addresses this topic. By using the National Administrative Studies Project-III (NASP-III) survey data, the author found that nonprofit managers are more likely than public managers to show positive work attitudes. This attitudinal difference, based on the results of mediation tests, originates from two important reasons. First, higher levels of rule constraints (i.e., red tape and personnel flexibility) in the public sector undermine managers’ work attitudes. Second, individuals attracted to work in the public sector have stronger extrinsic motivation, stronger amotivation, and weaker intrinsic motivation. These motivation styles compromise their work attitudes.
Knowledge and information-sharing networks are emerging in an increasing number of government programs and policy arenas. This article reports the results of an exploratory investigation into ways in which leadership and formal authority shaped the course of four knowledge network initiatives. The study treats authority as both formal and perceived. Leadership is assessed in terms of style, focus, and communication strategies. Analysis of the various authority and leadership patterns found in the case studies generated a set of hypotheses with regard to their influence on success of knowledge networks. Findings reveal that formal authority, perceived authority, and a variety of leadership behaviors appear to have important influence on the development and performance of public sector knowledge networks. These factors affect the ability of such networks to achieve their substantive goals and the degree to which these efforts provide satisfying and useful networking relationships among the participants.
Incrementalism is the dominant theory for explaining government decisions about policy and budgets, but it is of little use in explaining the large-scale budget changes and policy redirections that are actually observed. This article reviews recent efforts to explain both large and small changes in government decision making, and argues that punctuated equilibrium theory offers a better way of relating politics, government institutions, and policies. This new theory incorporates both incrementalism and large-scale changes into its view of government as a complex, interactive system. Extending the new theory specifically to budgeting produces the avalanche budget model, which traces how a government of different levels and processes generates both the stability and upsets found today in policies and budgets. Major changes are now and have been much more common in government policies and budgets than previously imagined, and this article examines some of the implications of that finding.
This article explicates the meaning of race and its institutionalization within public administration theory and practice. An argument is presented that conceptualizations of administrative responsibility in public administration have oversimplified or ignored what Gunnar Myrdal described more than 50 years ago as "the American dilemma. " Racism is an integral and often invisible component of the customary morality—a historically constructed system of meaning that establishes the customs and practices of a people. The author demonstrates that within public administration theory, administrative responsibility originates in customary morality. Brief suggestions are offered as to how administrators might confront a problem they are unable to resolve but are, nonetheless, compelled to address.
The rising cost of health care benefits is posing a serious threat to municipal budgets. Despite the seriousness of this challenge, public administration has paid little attention to the subject of municipal health care benefits. This article seeks to remedy this situation by presenting findings from a comprehensive national survey. The findings address the types of health care plans in use, the types of benefits available, the costs of benefits, satisfaction levels, and complaints. We hope that these findings will serve as a first step toward the development of a new knowledge base that can help to guide future decisions.
With the implementation of recent accounting standards (GASB 43 and 45), local governments began reporting their liabilities and funding levels for postemployment benefits other than pensions—so-called OPEBs. In this article we pose three questions: (a) What factors affect the size of a government’s OPEB liability? (b) How did the OPEB standards affect the way governments manage their OPEB plans? and (c) What factors explain government responds to the OPEB standards? We draw data directly from audited financial reports in Florida counties and cities to examine those questions. Our results suggest that benefit policies, personnel characteristics, and actuarial cost methods are the most influential factors in determining a size of a government’s OPEB liability. Our results also provide evidence that many governments responded to the OPEB standards by reducing their benefits and changing their funding approaches. We show preliminary evidence of differences in governments that changed their policies or funding approaches with those that continued the status quo.
The effort to oppose corruption has brought in recent decades a heightened emphasis on ethics, the establishment of official ethics codes, the creation of the first government agencies explicitly authorized to enforce ethics, and even the creation of ethics committees in Congress. Dennis Thompson has taken the lead in advocating and analyzing the increased attention to ethics, and yet one of his more recent studies draws attention to some “paradoxes” inherent in the pursuit of ethics in government. We take issue with Thompson’s argument that ethics is in some sense the most important of all policies. The hope for “ethics in government” may only be satisfied at a very modest level through the work of the current ethics agencies, the enforcement of ethics in government can impose important costs on the ethics project itself, and the democratic processes of government may limit what we should do to constrain the power of self-interest.
Mediation is rapidly becoming the dispute resolution technique of choice in public administration. This researche xamines the ways in whichfeder al mediators approachdis pute resolution in labormanagement relations. The analyses are based on semistructured interviews that were conducted with 15 mediators at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Mediators’descriptions of the mediation process are evaluated withr espect to three models: problem solving, transformative, and bifocal. Given the success of the FMCS at mediating a widening variety of disputes, the results of this study should generalize to other dispute resolution contexts. Practical implications of this research are as follows: (a) Mediators should adopt a bifocal approach, simultaneously attending to overarching relationship issues as well as the concrete, immediate issues in dispute; (b) the parties to a dispute must be actively engaged in the mediation process; (c) conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving is a long-term affair; and (d) public administrators involved in dispute resolution and collaborative problem solving should be prepared to take small steps.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the contributory factors that affect the whistle-blowing process in public sector organizations of Pakistan. Previous studies reveal that a perception of apathy and likely retaliation by the management, peers, and employees at large creates a culture within organizations that negatively affects whistle-blowing. Data were collected from 1,762 employees working in various public sector organizations of Pakistan through a questionnaire. Frequency tables were used to analyze the data. Results suggest that in Pakistan a number of factors, such as culture and organizational retaliation, affect the whistle-blowing process. It also highlights that some unique culturally induced factors contribute toward the employees’ perception and practice of whistle-blowing in their organizations. Results are explained in light of Hofstede’s cultural indices, which indicate that whistle-blowing is culture bound.
This research uses the responses from more than 500 officers serving a Midwestern city to understand their perceptions of themselves, fellow officers, the police department, neighborhood organizations, and the larger community in relation to community policing. Based on this data, the authors explore how community policing might be used to create a greater convergence of purpose among citizens, neighborhoods, organizations, and the broader well-being of the community. Findings indicate that officers doubt the ability of citizens to rise above their own self-interest, but they think that they and their fellow officers can do so. Furthermore, findings suggest the need for an overarching community agenda to prevent neighborhoods from becoming “civic cocoons” and to promote convergence of purpose between neighborhoods and the broader community. Finally, this research suggests that police departments that engage in transparent decision making that carefully balances departmental and community interests are better able to encourage this collaboration.
This article investigates gender representation in the public bureaucracy in the context of South Korea and its substantial effects on governmental performance. The past decades have seen a growing body of research on the theory of representative bureaucracy, yet the conceptual linkages remains unclear. This study, first, identifies three missing links existing in the theory of the representative bureaucracy. Second, we investigate whether the presence of women in the bureaucracy affects on the consequences of governmental activities. Using an unbalanced time-series data set for 25 years with gaps including 1978, 1983, 1986 to 2008, the investigation is conducted in terms of the media attention on women’s issues, social welfare budget, and the legislative success of the executive branch measured by the number of passed bills submitted to the National Assembly. The result of the autoregressive integrated moving average time series analysis (ARIMA) suggests that a representative bureaucracy influences substantive consequences on governmental performance.
A long tradition in public administration describes administrative decision making as incremental. Despite the dominance of incremental models of decision making, few quantitative studies of administrative behavior take the implications of incrementalism seriously. This article introduces two concepts (path dependence and path contingency) to facilitate quantitative models investigating incrementalism in public agencies. The article illustrates the utility of these concepts in model building by analyzing school district promotion policies. The results show that path contingency and path dependence reveal interesting dynamics of promotion standards that traditional analyses would overlook.
This article reports on a survey study of 382 managers from a variety of public and private sector organizations, on the values that guide sectoral decision making. Just as some important classical differences emerge, a number of similarities between the public and private sector appear to result in a set of common core organizational values. Furthermore, the data support neither increasing adoption of business values in public sector organizations nor flirtation with public values by business sector managers. This contradicts expectations in the literature on new public management and corporate social responsibility, suggesting public—private value intermixing. Value solidity seems the dominant feature in both sectors. Additional analysis shows that “publicness,” the extent to which an organization belongs to the public or the private sector— rather than age, gender, years of service or a past in the other sector—strongly determines value preferences.
This article examines local economic development goals and policies in Canada and the United States during a 7year period. The analysis is based on surveys of cities with a population greater than 10,000 in the two countries conducted in 1994 and 2001, allowing for an assessment of the extent of change versus stability in overall approach toward economic development. Economic development priorities in both U.S. and Canadian cities have remained relatively stable, focusing most heavily on traditional economic development strategies. Cities in both countries are tightening their focus on a traditional package of policies and thus appear to be institutionalizing their approaches. Whereas U.S. cities manifest a more passive role for government, Canadian cities reflect a more active role through partnerships that require an active professional staff.
Amid the focus of public management reforms on improving the performance of public organizations and their managers, there has been little empirical attention to the links between performance and management systems and activities; little attention has been paid to how and under what circumstances `management matters.' This study reports data from the Government Performance Project (GPP), with information of all 50 states. The GPP model argues that fundamental management systems are not only amenable to comparison across states but can provide critical components of the capacity that is basic to longer term effectiveness and performance. This article considers the extent to which capacity facilitates performance in financial management, analyzing the factors that contribute to the maintenance of rainy day funds (RDFs). The authors argue that arriving at positive performance for such indicators requires not only administrative capacity but also rules that shape political behavior that will support performance.