2012 APSA Herbert Simon Book Award to Moynihan’s The Dynamics of Performance Management

August 8, 2012

The Public Administration Section of the American Political Science Association has awarded their 2012 Herbert Simon Book Award to Donald P. Moynihan’s The Dynamics of Performance Management: Constructing Information and Reform. Drawing on research from state and federal levels, The Dynamics of Performance Management illustrates how governments have emphasized some aspects of performance management—such as building measurement systems to acquire more performance data—but have neglected wider organizational change that would facilitate the use of such information.

In Moynihan’s analysis of why and how governments in the United States have made the move to performance systems, he identifies agency leadership, culture, and resources as keys to better implementation, goal-based learning, and improved outcomes.

How do governments use the performance information generated under performance systems? Moynihan develops a model of interactive dialogue to highlight how performance data, which promised to optimize decision making and policy change for the public’s benefit, has often been used selectively to serve the interests of particular agencies and individuals, undermining attempts at interagency problem solving and reform.

A valuable resource for public administration scholars and administrators, The Dynamics of Performance Management offers fresh insight into how government organizations can better achieve their public service goals.


Rethinking Federal Management Reform

March 12, 2012

Proposals for reform have dotted the federal management landscape in the United States for more than 50 years. Yet the results of these efforts have frequently failed to produce lasting results. The public management field’s prescriptions for reform have become too formulaic and have largely ignored lessons from the mediocre results that have been seen from many previous efforts. In her new book, Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions, renowned public administration scholar Beryl A. Radin reveals what may lie behind the failure of so many of these efforts at government management reform.

The book examines three basic sets of contradictions between the strategies of the reformers and the reality of the US federal system: contradictions in the shared powers structure, contradictions in values, and contradictions between politics and administration. Too often the prescriptions for reform have tried to directly apply techniques from the private sector or a parliamentary system that do not transfer well to the structure of the US federal system, to this country’s democratic traditions, or our complex political system. Radin then uses these contradictions to explore six types of reform efforts—contracting out, personnel policy, agency reorganization, budgeting, federalism policies and procedures, and performance management.

Carsten Greve, of Copenhagen Business School, calls Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions “essential reading for all who want to understand why public management reform does not always work as intended, but nevertheless continues to attract politicians’ and citizens’ attention. . . . A thoughtful and well-researched reminder of why politics and reform are bound together. This book places the public management reform agenda in its proper historical perspective.”

Mindful of the ineffectiveness of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, Radin does not propose a single path for reform, but calls instead for a truly honest assessment of past efforts as today’s reformers design a new conceptual and strategic roadmap for the future. Norma M. Riccucci, of Rutgers University, Newark, applauds the book, saying that it “challenges the way in which academics as well as practitioners have tackled the problems associated with public management reform. . . . [E]xtraordinarily insightful.”


Beryl Radin at Politics and Prose

March 10, 2012

Join Beryl Radin today at 3pm at Politics and Prose for a discussion of her latest book, Federal Management Reform in a World of Contradictions. Radin, a Georgetown Public Policy Institute faculty member, cites three basic areas of incompatibility between the US federal system and many of the proposals for reform offered in recent decades. In considering diverse aspects of the government’s shared-powers structure, values, and politics and administration, she makes a thorough analysis of how techniques suited to the private sector or borrowed from parliamentary systems are often a poor fit for federal management. Visit the event page here.


Norma Riccucci’s book wins American Society of Public Administration Book Award

March 7, 2012

At the American Society of Public Administration’s Annual Meeting this past weekend, Georgetown University Press book Public Administration: Traditions of Inquiry and Philosophies of Knowledge won the Best Book of 2012 Award from the Section on Public Administration Research. This book by Norma Riccucci examines the intellectual origins and identity of the discipline of public administration, its diverse research traditions, and how public administration research is conducted today.

Craig Thomas, of the University of Washington, has applauded the book calling it “a sweeping and inclusive examination of the epistemic foundations of public administration theory and methods.” He goes on saying, “Riccucci convincingly demonstrates that the field is better served when research questions drive methodological choices, rather than methodological commitments driving the questions we ask. Hence, this book should be a standard text for graduate seminars on the logic of inquiry and research design in public administration.”

We at the press are very proud of Dr. Riccucci’s achievement and pleased that ASPA recognized her truly excellent work!


MPSA Recap

April 20, 2011

The beginning of the month found GU Press in Chicago for the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. Popular titles in our booth were Out and Running, Public Administration, The Future of Public Administration around the World, The National Security Enterprise, and City-County Consolidation. Here’s a photo of our booth from the meeting:


The Practice of Public Administration Research

June 22, 2010

Is public administration an art or a science? This question of whether the field is driven by values or facts will never be definitively answered due to a lack of consensus among scholars. The resulting divide has produced many heated debates; however, Norma Riccucci’s pioneering volume, Public Administration: Traditions of Inquiry and Philosophies of Knowledge, embraces the diversity of research methods rather than suggesting that there is one best way to conduct research in public administration.

Public Administration examines the intellectual origins and identity of the discipline of public administration, its diverse research traditions, and how public administration research is conducted today. The book’s intended purpose is to engage reasonable-minded public administration scholars and professionals in a dialogue on the importance of heterogeneity in epistemic traditions, and to deepen the field’s understanding and acceptance of its epistemological scope. This important book will provide a necessary overview of the discipline for graduate students and scholars.

David H. Rosenbloom, Chair Professor of Public Management at City University of Hong Kong and distinguished professor of public administration at American University, praises Public Administration placing it “among the most valuable books in the field. Riccucci masterfully, succinctly, clearly, and comprehensively explains how we go about knowing what we know in public administration. The book should be required reading for every doctoral student in the field, and faculty members in all our research traditions will undoubtedly find it exceptionally helpful and useful. The book will make a major and lasting contribution to the ways in which we design and organize our research and scholarship.”

About the Author:
Norma M. Riccucci is a professor of public administration at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of Unsung Heroes: Federal Execucrats Making a Difference and How Management Matters: Street-Level Bureaucrats and Welfare Reform, which won the 2009 Herbert Simon Book Award from the American Political Science Association.


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