PAR Preview ▪ Issue 32 ▪ April 2014
PAR Preview is a monthly newsletter that calls attention to forthcoming articles in PAR. It provides brief summaries of content now available digitally in Early View, Wiley’s online publication system.
Public Value and the Integrative Mind: How Multiple Sectors Can Collaborate in City Building
Thomas Fisher (University of Minnesota) discusses how creating the public realm in an era of constrained resources demands a level of cooperation among multiple sectors rarely seen before and a recognition that the boundaries between what we have considered “public” and “private” have become porous and blurred. A number of recent projects on either side of the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis show what this means in terms of delivering public value much greater than any one sector could produce on its own. Link to PAR Early View.
Want to Increase Trust in Government? Update Our Public Participation Laws
Matt Leighninger (Deliberative Democracy Consortium) addresses how the outdated laws on public participation—and the failed public meeting formats they perpetuate—represent one of the key obstacles to improving the relationship between citizens and government. According to Leighninger, if we want to stem the rising tide of incivility, mistrust, and policy gridlock, we need to reexamine the official processes for engaging the public. Link to PAR Early View.
Public Managers and the Economists
In the public management literature, the relationship between public bureaucrats and politicians is an ever-present theme. As they both define policies, politicians and bureaucrats compete as much as they cooperate in policy making. Top public managers are policy makers, and the schools forming them often call themselves schools of public policy instead of schools of public administration. The choice is comprehensible. Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira (Getulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil) considers what is less understandable: why public managers leave economic policy as an exclusive domain of the economists. If public managers don’t passively accept the policies proposed by politicians, why don’t they exhibit the same behavior in relation to economic policies? And why don’t we have a literature discussing the relations between public mangers and economists? Link to PAR Early View.
The View of Immigration Reform from the U.S.–Mexico Border
“Beto” O'Rourke (U.S. House of Representatives) posits that we are as close to fixing our immigration system as we have been in more than 20 years. However, the closer we get, the more divisive the rhetoric, the more challenging the politics, and the more devilish the details.Link to PAR Early View.
THEORY TO PRACTICE
Donald P. Moynihan, Editor
Status and Power: The Principal Inputs to Influence for Public Managers
Joe C. Magee and Clifford W. Frasier (New York University) identify status and power as the principal bases of influence for public managers and describe how managers can use this conceptual distinction to increase their influence. Status is defined as the degree to which one is respected by one's colleagues, and power is defined as asymmetric control over valued resources. Different social and relational processes govern (1) how people determine who is, and who ought to be, high status versus powerful and (2) how status and power affect individual psychology and behavior. To illustrate key points, the authors provide examples of individuals from the public sector and public service organizations. The framework of interpersonal influence gives practitioners behavioral strategies for increasing their status and power as well as a way to assess and diagnose interpersonal dimensions of their own performance in their jobs and careers. Link to PAR Early View.
Implicit Public Values and the Creation of Publicly Valuable Outcomes: The Importance of Work and the Contested Role of Labor Unions
The deep importance of work for families and communities means that discussions of public values and debates over public policies to create publicly valuable outcomes must not overlook work, the workplace, and the employment relationship. John W. Budd (University of Minnesota) considers the range of public values on work and the options for creating work-related publicly valuable outcomes. Labor unions feature prominently in the analyses because they are the most visible nonmarket institution for creating publicly valuable outcomes relating to work. Ultimately, however, there is no consensus on the desired public values about work or the best ways of fulfilling them. Rather, these are deeply contested issues rooted in contrasting frames of reference on work and the employment relationship, which makes the realization of publicly valuable outcomes challenging. Link to PAR Early View.
Creating Public Value with Tax and Spending Policies: The View from Public Economics
Laura Kalambokidis (University of Minnesota) views tax and spending policies through the lens of public economics. According to the framework rooted in public economics, governments can create public value by focusing tax and spending policies on remedying market failures and addressing concerns about fairness embodied in a social welfare function. By pursuing optimal tax and spending policies, governments navigate the omnipresent trade-offs between equity and efficiency. Of course, in practice, the process by which policies are adopted does not resemble the planner's problem in social choice theory. In addition, real fiscal policies do not look much like the recommendations that arise from the optimal tax literature. Governments operate in public choice environments that are not conducive to focused remedying of market failure, and they suffer from their own tendencies to fail to achieve their objectives. Nevertheless, many of the tools are in place to help the federal and state governments focus tax and spending in ways that can maximize public value. Link to PAR Early View.
Civil Society Making Political Claims: Outcries, Interest Advocacy, and Deliberative Claims
Increased citizen participation is proposed to remedy democratic deficits. However, it is unclear whether such participation improves reason-based discussions or whether it serves mainly as a safety valve for discontented citizens. To what extent does citizen-initiated participation involve reason-based arguments? PerOla Öberg and Katrin Uba (Uppsala University, Sweden) examine citizens’ reason giving based on unique data on citizens’ contacts with local authorities in Sweden. They provide support for proponents of deliberative participation, as an unexpected amount of contacts provided reasons for clearly stated positions and invitations to a constructive dialogue with authorities. There is variation across issues. More conflictual issues involve fewer intentions to participate in a reasoned exchange of arguments. The study shows that citizens deliver more reason-based input to democratic decision making when they prepare their position in groups than when they participate as individuals. Findings are preliminary but clearly illustrate the fruitfulness of widening the research agenda on civic engagement in politics and public administration. Link to PAR Early View.
Policy Area as a Potential Moderator of Transparency Effects: An Experiment
Building on the counterintuitive findings of recent empirical studies that transparency in political decision making may have a negative effect on public legitimacy beliefs, Jenny de Fine Licht (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) suggests that transparency has different effects depending on the policy area. Specifically, she argues that transparency is less effective in policy decisions that involve trade-offs related to questions of human life and death or well-being. Using an experiment that involved 1,032 participants, the effect of transparency is tested in two policy areas that represent routine priority setting (culture and leisure) and policy decisions implicitly related to human life and well-being (traffic security). Results indicate that transparency can increase public acceptance of political decisions, but this effect is moderated by the type of policy area. Furthermore, a limited type of transparency in which decision makers provide justifications for their decisions can result in benefits while avoiding potential costs. Link to PAR Early View.
Sonia M. Ospina and Rogan Kersh, Editors
Medicaid's Remarkable Resilience
Shanna Rose (New York University) reviews Medicaid Politics: Federalism,
Policy Durability, and Health Reform (2012) by Frank J. Thompson. According to Rose, the question at the heart of Thompson’s book is: How has this humble program for the poor (Medicaid) defied expectations by enduring and expanding over the years? Thompson points out that Medicaid’s persistence over the past five decades is particularly surprising in light of the many pressures for retrenchment, including rising health care costs, the aging of the population, economic downturns, and conservative opposition. Link to PAR Early View.