Evaluating Urban Public Schools
Nathan Favero (Texas A&M University) comments on his research with Kenneth J. Meier (Texas A&M University) on how to measure school quality. Their corresponding PAR article, “Evaluating Urban Public Schools: Parents, Teachers, and State Assessments” uses data from New York City's public school system with a cross-sectional time-series approach to compare parent and teacher evaluations to government records of schools’ characteristics and performance. Listen to the PAR Podcast.
Early View Articles
THEORY TO PRACTICE
Donald P. Moynihan, Editor
Strategic Management and Performance in Public Organizations: Findings from the Miles and Snow Framework
Richard M. Walker (City University of Hong Kong, China) integrates the research evidence that applies Miles and Snow's strategic management framework to the performance of public agencies. Miles and Snow developed several strategy types, arguing that prospectors (searching for new approaches) and defenders (sticking with the existing pattern of services) are aligned with processes, structures, and the environment in ways that lead them to outperform reactors (awaiting for instructions from the environment), which have no consistent strategy or alignment. Six key lessons for the practice of strategic management in public organizations are provided based on a critical review. Findings point toward the importance of employing a mix of strategies in public organizations, contrary to Miles and Snow—a strong evidence base for the association between prospecting and defending and performance and for relationships between strategy types and processes and structures. However, no empirical evidence is provided for alignment across strategy, structure, process, and the environment. The findings, largely derived from the United Kingdom and United States, suggest that the most successful strategy recipe depends on the ingredients, and thus managers must pay attention to the connections between the outlined contingencies to generate the best results using the adopted strategy. Read this in PAR Early View.
Commentary on this article by Kim Salkeld (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, China) is available online. .
The Adoption and Abandonment of Council-Manager Government
What accounts for patterns of city adoption and abandonment of council-manager government? Despite dozens of empirical studies, we lack a systematic understanding of these forces over time because previous work has relied on cross-sectional designs or analysis of change over short periods. Cheon Geun Choi (Hansung University, South Korea), Richard C. Feiock (Florida State University) and Jungah Bae (Korea Research Institute for Local Administration, South Korea) begin to fill this lacuna by constructing a historical data set spanning 75 years for the 191 largest cities with either mayor-council or council-manager governments in 1930. Event history analysis is applied to isolate adoption and abandonment trends and to provide new evidence revealing the forces that have shaped the trajectory of institutional change in U.S. cities. This analysis reveals that social context factors—in particular, economic conditions—generate both adoptions and abandonments. Read in PAR Early View.
The Importance of Role Clarification in Workgroups: Effects on Perceived Role Clarity, Work Satisfaction, and Turnover Rates
Shahidul Hassan (The Ohio State University) examines how greater role clarification may be associated with increased work satisfaction and decreased turnover rates in workgroups. These linkages are examined with the use of multivariate analysis of variance and hierarchical regression analysis for data collected during two time periods from multiple sources: personnel records and an organizational survey of 1,699 employees working in 45 geographically distributed offices in a state government agency. Results indicate that offices with a high level of role clarification had significantly higher levels of work satisfaction and lower rates of turnover. Additionally, the effects of role clarification on work satisfaction and turnover behavior were mediated by overall role clarity perceived in these offices. The implications of these findings for effective management of workgroups in government agencies are discussed. Read in PAR Early View.
Motivated to Adapt? The Role of Public Service Motivation as Employees Face Organizational Change
Researchers concerned with organizational change have consistently emphasized the role that the work environment plays in employee acceptance of change. Underexamined in the public management literature, however, is the role that employee values, particularly public service motivation (PSM), may play in employee acceptance of change. Some scholars have noted a positive correlation between employee PSM and organizational change efforts; Bradley E. Wright (Georgia State University), Robert K. Christensen (University of Georgia), and Kimberley Roussin Isett (Georgia Institute of Technology) extend this work by attempting to isolate the mechanisms that explain this relationship. Using data from a survey of employees in a city undergoing a reorganization and reduction in workforce, they find that only employees who scored high on a single dimension of PSM—self-sacrifice—were more likely than others to support organizational change. Rather than support changes for their potential to improve public service, this finding suggests that employees with higher PSM may simply be less likely to resist changes that might disadvantage them personally. Read in PAR Early View.
Sonia M. Ospina and Rogan Kersh, Editors
Contesting Narratives in Politics
Michael W. Spicer (Cleveland State University) reviews Governing Narratives: Symbolic Politics and Policy Change (2012) by Hugh T. Miller. According to Spicer, Miller seeks to change in significant ways how we think and talk about public policy. The book's basic thesis and contribution to the field is that we need to think about public policy not so much in terms of the various policy actors or institutions who are engaged in it, but rather in terms of the language—that is, the words, sentences, and stories—used to influence policy outcomes, along with all of the symbols, images, and connotations that this language evokes. Read in PAR Early View.
Improving the Capacity to Govern Based on Rules in China
Wen Wang (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis) reviews Ten Principles for a Rule-Ordered Society: Enhancing China's Governing Capacity (2012) by Shui-Yan Tang. According to Wang, the book lays out 10 principles for strengthening China as a rule-ordered society and contributes to the discussion on how to establish a rule-ordered society in China while it is going through drastic economic and social transformation. The questions raised and arguments made by Tang will stimulate further discussion and research on this important governance problem in China. Read this review in PAR Early View.
Legitimating and Constraining American Government
Philip Rocco (University of California, Berkeley) reviews The Unwieldy American State: Administrative Politics since the New Deal (2012) by Joanna L. Grisinger. According to Rocco, Grisinger unravels the origins of several constraints on the American state by historicizing several major attempts at administrative reform, including the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Legislative Reorganization Act (LRA), and the Hoover Commission recommendations on Organization of the Executive Branch. The book adds to a growing body of work on the postwar development of the American state suggesting that, despite growth during the late twentieth century, it did not necessarily gain the capacity to make policy autonomously that other developed democracies did (see Teles 2012). Read this review in PAR Early View.