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Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government
The blame game, with its finger-pointing and mutual buck-passing, is a familiar feature of politics and organizational life, and blame avoidance pervades government and public organizations at every level. Political and bureaucratic blame games and blame avoidance are more often condemned than analyzed. In The Blame Game, Christopher Hood takes a different approach by showing how blame avoidance shapes the workings of government and public services. Arguing that the blaming phenomenon is not all bad, Hood demonstrates that it can actually help to pin down responsibility, and he examines different kinds of blame avoidance, both positive and negative.
Hood traces how the main forms of blame avoidance manifest themselves in presentational and "spin" activity, the architecture of organizations, and the shaping of standard operating routines. He analyzes the scope and limits of blame avoidance, and he considers how it plays out in old and new areas, such as those offered by the digital age of websites and e-mail. Hood assesses the effects of this behavior, from high-level problems of democratic accountability trails going cold to the frustrations of dealing with organizations whose procedures seem to ensure that no one is responsible for anything.
Delving into the inner workings of complex institutions, The Blame Game proves how a better understanding of blame avoidance can improve the quality of modern governance, management, and organizational design.
Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America
The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology—including post-racialism and colorblind politics—that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.
How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics
A host of catastrophes, natural and otherwise, as well as some pleasant surprises like the sudden end of the cold war without a shot being fired have caught governments and societies unprepared many times in recent decades. September 11 is only the most obvious recent example among many unforeseen events that have changed, even redefined our lives. We have every reason to expect more such events in future. Several kinds of unanticipated scenarios particularly those of low probability and high impact have the potential to escalate into systemic crises. Even positive surprises can be major policy challenges. Anticipating and managing low-probability events is a critically important challenge to contemporary policymakers, who increasingly recognize that they lack the analytical tools to do so. Developing such tools is the focus of this insightful and perceptive volume, edited by renowned author Francis Fukuyama and sponsored by The American Interest magazine. Bl indside is organized into four main sections. "Thinking about Strategic Surprise" addresses the psychological and institutional obstacles that prevent leaders from planning for low-probability tragedies and allocating the necessary resources to deal with them. The following two sections pinpoint the failures institutional as well as personal that allowed key historical events to take leaders by surprise, and examine the philosophies and methodologies of forecasting. In "Pollyana vs. Cassandra," for example, James Kurth and Gregg Easterbrook debate the future state of the world going forward. Mitchell Waldrop explores why technology forecasting is so poor and why that is likely to remain the case. In the book's final section, "What Could Be," internationally renowned authorities discuss low probability, high-impact contingencies in their area of expertise. For example, Scott Barrett looks at emerging infectious diseases, while Gal Luft and Anne Korin discuss energy security. How can we avoid being blindsided by unforeseen events? There is no easy or obvious answer. But it is essential that we understand the obstacles that prevent us first from seeing the future clearly and then from acting appropriately on our insights. This readable and fascinating book is an important step in that direction.
Class and Governance in the Luxury City
Education, Desegregation, and Development in Charlotte
Bringing a new perspective to Charlotte’s landmark school desegregation efforts, Stephen Samuel Smith provides a multi-faceted history of the nationally praised mandatory busing plan and the court battle that led to its ultimate demise. Although both black and white children benefited from busing, its most ongoing consequences were not educational, but the political and economic ones that served the interests of Charlotte’s business elite and facilitated the city’s economic boom. Drawing on urban regime theory, Smith shows how busing enhanced civic capacity and was part of a political alliance between Charlotte’s business elite and black political leaders. This account of Charlotte’s history has national implications for desegregation, urban education, efforts to build civic capacity, and the political involvement of the urban poor.
The Rise of America's Accidental Cities
A glance at a list of America's fastest growing "cities" reveals quite a surprise: most are really overgrown suburbs. Places such as Anaheim, California, Coral Springs, Florida, Naperville, Illinois, North Las Vegas, Nevada, and Plano, Texas, have swelled to big-city size with few people really noticing including many of their ten million residents. These "boomburbs" are large, rapidly growing, incorporated communities of more than 100,000 residents that are not the biggest city in their region. Here, Robert E. Lang and Jennifer B. LeFurgy explain who lives in them, what they look like, how they are governed, and why their rise calls into question the definition of urban.
Located in over twenty-five major metro areas throughout the United States, numerous boomburbs have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled in size between census reports. Some are now more populated than traditional big cities. The population of the biggest boomburb Mesa, Arizona recently surpassed that of Minneapolis and Miami.
Typically large and sprawling, boomburbs are "accidental cities," but not because they lack planning. Many are made up of master-planned communities that have grown into one another. Few anticipated becoming big cities and unintentionally arrived at their status. Although boomburbs possess elements found in cities such as housing, retailing, offices, and entertainment, they lack large downtowns. But they can contain high-profile industries and entertainment venues: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Arizona Cardinals are among over a dozen major-league sports teams who play in the boomburbs.
Urban in fact but not in feel, these drive-by cities of highways, office parks, and shopping malls are much more horizontally built and less pedestrian friendly than most older suburbs. And, contrary to common perceptions of suburbia, they are not rich and elitist. Poverty is often seen in boomburb communities of small single-family homes, neighborhoods that once represented the American dream.
Boomburbs are a quintessential American landscape, embodying much of the nation's complexity, expansiveness, and ambiguity. This fascinating look at the often contradictory world of boomburbs examines why America's suburbs are thriving and how they are shaping the lives of millions of residents.
The Politics of Supporting America's Working Poor
When most people think of policies designed to help the poor, welfare is the first program that comes to mind. Traditionally welfare has served individuals who do not work hence much of the stigma that some attach to the program. An equally important strand of American social policy, however, is meant to support low-wage workers and their families. In Boosting Paychecks, Daniel Gitterman illuminates this often neglected part of the American safety net.
Gitterman focuses on two sets of policy instruments that have been used to aid the working poor since the early twentieth century: the federal tax code and the minimum wage. The income tax code can be fine-tuned in many ways through exemptions, deductions, credits, changing tax brackets and rates to alter the amount of income workers are left with at the end of the day. In addition, it interacts with the minimum wage to determine the economic well-being of many lowincome households. Boosting Paychecks analyzes the partisan politics that have shaped these policies since the New Deal era, with particular attention paid to the past three decades. It also examines the degree to which they have succeeded in lifting low-wage workers and their families out of poverty.
Forging a new political bargain that balances labor market flexibility with security for poor working families is one of the most critical challenges facing government today. Boosting Paychecks sheds new light on the scope of this challenge and the political constraints and opportunities policymakers face.
Comparing Border Security in North America and Europe
Border security has been high on public-policy agendas in Europe and North America since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City and on the headquarters of the American military in Washington DC. Governments are now confronted with managing secure borders, a policy objective that in this era of increased free trade and globalization must compete with intense cross-border flows of people and goods. Border-security policies must enable security personnel to identify, or filter out, dangerous individuals and substances from among the millions of travelers and tons of goods that cross borders daily, particularly in large cross-border urban regions. This book addresses this gap between security needs and an understanding of borders and borderlands. Specifically, the chapters in this volume ask policy-makers to recognize that two fundamental elements define borders and borderlands: first, human activities (the agency and agent power of individual ties and forces spanning a border), and second, the broader social processes that frame individual action, such as market forces, government activities (law, regulations, and policies), and the regional culture and politics of a borderland. Borders emerge as the historically and geographically variable expression of human ties exercised within social structures of varying force and influence, and it is the interplay and interdependence between people's incentives to act and the surrounding structures (i.e. constructed social processes that contain and constrain individual action) that determine the effectiveness of border security policies. This book argues that the nature of borders is to be porous, which is a problem for security policy makers. It shows that when for economic, cultural, or political reasons human activities increase across a border and borderland, governments need to increase cooperation and collaboration with regard to security policies, if only to avoid implementing mismatched security policies.
Consumer and Mortgage Credit Revisited
Americans are awash in debt, and the U.S. economy is in trouble. Credit undergirds daily life more than ever it has become one of the defining aspects of American life, and the ramifications are becoming clearer by the day. The already considerable damage from a depressed housing market has been exacerbated by the subprime lender implosion, sending shock waves through the financial sector, international economies, and government at all levels. Most low- or moderate-income people borrow, but that should not be construed as uniformly poor judgment or lack of disciplines Americans are not borrowing merely to keep up with the Joneses, but too often simply to stay afloat.
In Borrowing to Live, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University brings together a group of experts drawn from the best of academia, research, and public services. Together with editors Nicolas Retsinas and Eric Belsky, they dissect the worrisome current state of consumer and mortgage credit in the United States and help point the way out of the current struggles.
Contributors: Michael S. Barr, Eric S. Belsky, Raphael W. Bostic, Shawn Cole, Amy Crews Cutts, Kathleen C. Engel, Ren S. Essene, Elaine Kempson, Patricia A. McCoy, William A. Merrill, Sendhil Mullainathan, Anthony Pennington-Cross, Elizabeth Renuart, Eldar Shafir, Edna R. Sawady, Jennifer Tescher, John Thompson, Peter Tufano, Susan M. Wachter
Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed--and What to Do About It
Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tel Aviv--the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity--all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars. When has governmental sponsorship succeeded in boosting growth, and when has it fallen terribly short? Should the government be involved in such undertakings at all? Boulevard of Broken Dreams is the first extensive look at the ways governments have supported entrepreneurs and venture capitalists across decades and continents. Josh Lerner, one of the foremost experts in the field, provides valuable insights into why some public initiatives work while others are hobbled by pitfalls, and he offers suggestions for how public ventures should be implemented in the future.
Discussing the complex history of Silicon Valley and other pioneering centers of venture capital, Lerner uncovers the extent of government influence in prompting growth. He examines the public strategies used to advance new ventures, points to the challenges of these endeavors, and reveals the common flaws undermining far too many programs--poor design, a lack of understanding for the entrepreneurial process, and implementation problems. Lerner explains why governments cannot dictate how venture markets evolve, and why they must balance their positions as catalysts with an awareness of their limited ability to stimulate the entrepreneurial sector.
As governments worldwide seek to spur economic growth in ever more aggressive ways, Boulevard of Broken Dreams offers an important caution. The book argues for a careful approach to government support of entrepreneurial activities, so that the mistakes of earlier efforts are not repeated.