Measuring Behavioral Attributes for Federal Agencies Across Time
Anthony Bertelli, with Jennifer Connolly, David Gastwirth, and Dyana Mason
Many characteristics of public organizations are difficult to directly measure, and are equally difficult to measure in a way that can be compared across time or between organizations. Dr. Bertelli and his research team created a statistical model for measuring meaningful attributes, such as employee job satisfaction, across time and organizations. Using survey data from the Office of Personnel Management and Merit Systems Protection Board, they measured three attributes- employee autonomy, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation- for 71 federal agencies from 1998 to 2010. Dr. Bertelli used this information to create a database that can have many uses in quantitative public management research as well as a statistical model that can be adapted to other data sources. To provide an example of this tool, his team also demonstrated how analysis of this data can be used in assessments of organizational design.
Dr. Bertelli’s research was published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory in the article “Measuring Agency Attributes with Attitudes Across Time: A Method and Examples Using Large-Scale Federal Surveys” and can be found here. A second article, “Bureaucratic Perceptions of Discretion in the U.S. Separation of Powers: Evidence from Cabinet Departments,” is forthcoming in Public Organization Review.
Recurrent Governance Failures in Los Angeles County
The recurring challenges of gang violence and homelessness in Los Angeles County are often identified as criminal justice, community engagement, or mental health challenges. Dr. Callahan argues that these challenges should be recognized instead as failures of governance that can be addressed by working across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to create organizational responses. These issues meet the criteria of governance challenges because they cross political jurisdictions, the cost of failure is high, they are pressing issues, and they result in depleted intellectual capital. By looking at these issues from a broader governance standpoint, Dr. Callahan sought to shift away from conventional thinking to find new solutions that engage the broader governance community from all three sectors and between levels of government. Dr. Callahan’s research was presented to the Bedrosian Center in 2011.
Collaboration and Culture: Organizational Culture and the Dynamics of Collaborative Networks
Inter-organization networks and cross-sector collaboration are receiving increasing attention in public administration research, sparked by the rise in network-based policy implementation, increased reliance on public-private partnerships, and the devolution of implementation responsibilities to local actors.
Scholars have recognized that social structures, and not just the characteristics of actors, are important for determining organizational behavior and performance during collaboration. Professors and Bedrosian Center affiliates Weare and Esparza went even further to examine the influence of organizational culture on these inter-organizational dynamics, arguing that organizations with different cultural viewpoints have distinct and predictable biases in terms of their expectations and preferences toward collaboration. Using this research, Weare and Esparza developed a theory about how organizational culture can promote or inhibit different types of inter-organizational collaboration. To demonstrate their theory, they provide a case study of an affordable housing network in Los Angeles.
Collaboration and Civic Engagement through Partnerships in National Parks
Research on the use of cross-sector collaboration in the public sector has focused predominately on contracting and the cost benefits of privatization. Dr. Suarez’s research instead focuses on how the public sector can collaborate with nonprofits and private companies through a steward relationship. Dr. Suarez uses management of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) as an example of the stewardship approach to management by exploring how the GGNRA has worked with a nonprofit “steward” partner to manage the park and create substantial public value. He argues that the GGNRA’s nonprofit partner helped implement physical improvements to the park through successful fundraising and marketing as well as expand stakeholder involvement through volunteer recruitment and the encouragement of civic engagement. He also found that while the stewardship model had many successes, it also raised issues of autonomy and control.
Dr. Suarez’s research formed the basis for two forthcoming papers with Dr. Nicole Esparza: “Collaboration and its Limits: Tensions and Opportunities in Public Nonprofit Partnerships,” and “Public Management in an International Context: Government Funding for Development NGOs.”