In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

As President Barack Obama entered the final Congress of his presidency facing majority opposition in both chambers of the legislature and ostensibly an opposing ideological majority in the United States Supreme Court, the legislative success of his administration’s policy agenda seemed largely in the rearview mirror of his two-term tenure. Thus, as is common to most “lame duck” presidents, the president presumably looks toward bolstering his presidential legacy through his role as chief executive of the US federal bureaucracy. Reliance on this role in domestic matters during one’s second term is common, as presidents seek to concentrate on implementation issues and leverage administrative power to ensure short- and longterm alignment of agency actions to their respective policy preferences and legacy. An important question explored in the following pages is to what extent this is possible, given the formulation of goals and implementation of the management initiatives taken by political appointees on behalf of the president leading up to that point. But this book tackles matters that are even more fundamental to the functional governing of the US executive branch, and these matters are seemingly generalizable across presidencies (Posner & Radin, 2014): Why do presidents face so many avoidable managerial dilemmas across the entirety of their administrations, but especially toward the end of their administrations when a president’s administrative goals might be more explicit and better aligned with his appointed leadership ’s prerogatives than during the first term? This work helps open the “black box” of organizational behavior in US federal executive branch agencies by examining one critical aspect that facilitates the connection between politicization and performance: the relations Introduction 2 Rethinking the Administrative Presidency between appointed and career executives. By coherently modeling these relationships using original and secondary data, I reveal a mechanism by which efforts at political control actually harm agency performance. I examine the “administrative presidency”—the collection of managerial and personnel strategies that are typically employed by modern presidents to “exert control over the executive branch in order to ensure that their policy preferences will not be subverted, intentionally or otherwise, by [career] officials unsympathetic to those preferences” (Rockman, 1986). I do so from the seldom-­ analyzed perspective of careerists in the executive branch—illuminating the importance of intrapersonal and intraorganizational trust in the context of federal agencies and linking a contextually based definition of trust to intellectual capital development as a precursor to successfully advancing presidential agendas administratively. Specifically, I investigate the means and extent by which the George W. Bush administration (during its second term) was able to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of information to achieve its policy goals through administrative means—namely, the strategic use of presidential appointment powers. In turn, I test the degree to which the variables that produce intellectual capital are moderated by the political and organizational dynamics within which organizational actors are embedded. The empirical models in this study are constructed using data from several interrelated sources, including the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) and a National Academy of Public Administration survey of career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES). In doing so, I apply statistical analyses that are not common in the study of the administrative presidency. Importantly, I also interlace evidence culled from over a dozen interviews of career executives and managers, as well as political appointees . The research highlights the importance of functional relationships between careerists and appointees in the interest of advancing robust policy and the narrower prerogatives of presidents and their appointees. This book puts forward a rather simple, but important, argument that presidents (and, by proxy, their appointees) commonly start from the premise of distrust when they attempt to control agencies. In doing so, these control efforts communicate distrust to the career bureaucracy, further diminishing trust throughout the hierarchy. Like trust, distrust is reciprocated and has “trickle-down” effects through lower managerial levels of the hierarchy. Thus, the decline in trust reduces information sharing between Introduction 3 careerists and appointees and hurts agency performance—in terms of both “objective” performance and the president’s ability to see through his policy prerogatives administratively. Importantly, I theorize and model the moderating effects of politicization and other organizational-level factors on appointee-careerist trust that more accurately capture the contingent nature of these relationships. Therefore, the roles of trust in appointee-careerist relations and informational exchange become critical subjects for analysis in studies of presidential control of the bureaucracy. It is unlikely that information is...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.