Comparative Public Policy Investment
Political executives are often defined by their policy focus, such as Obama’s inextricable link to health care reform. But why do they prioritize one issue over the other, and what causes these priorities to change? Dr. Bertelli argues that the answer lies in how politicians seek to balance the policies that give them the best chance for re-election with pursuing policies that while essential, may be unpopular. Bertelli’s new theory, called the public policy investment approach, seeks to identify the factors that politicians use to balance these two policy objectives. He argues that government actors are like investors, trying to minimize risk and maximize returns on political capital investment. Using quantitative methods, Bertelli and his team demonstrate how risk and return can predict the prioritization of public policies both in the US and abroad.
Dr. Bertelli’s research on public policy investment in Britain was published in the British Journal of Political Science and can be read here. This research also led to his recent book “Public Policy Investment: Priority-Setting and Conditional Representation in British Statecraft,” published by Oxford University Press.
Public Policy Investment in Spain: A Comparative Analysis
Dr. Bertelli continues to research how the public policy investment model can explain why and how governments decide which policies to prioritize. He used this research grant to expand his research to include an analysis of Spain, looking at how recent economic events may have influenced Spain’s policy agenda. A paper on this research entitled “Conditional Responsiveness and the Spanish Policy Agenda” was presented at the American Society for Public Administration conference in 2012.
Institutional Constraints and Options for California’s Adaptation to Sea Level Rise
California faces significant coastal impacts from climate change due to rising sea levels. With three-quarters of California’s population living in coastal areas, current and projected risks due to coastal flooding are high. Presently, state and the local government entities lack the capacity to analyze climate change impacts and develop solutions that accurately take into account flooding risks. Local agencies also lack a clear sense of legal and other systemic constraints as they seek to tackle this issue. Dr. Blanco’s research examined the challenges facing local agencies and offered solutions for making these actors more effective in addressing sea level rise. Dr. Blanco’s research was presented to the Bedrosian Center in 2013.
From Subjects to Citizens: How Homeowner’s Participation Transforms Local Governance in Beijing
Dr. Cooper’s research is one of the first attempts to study the behavioral consequences of civic participation in an authoritarian context. Prior to economic liberalization, Chinese citizens had limited political freedoms and property rights. Now, more Chinese are homeowners and are seeking to organize themselves to protect their property rights from unlawful developers or property managers. Dr. Cooper’s research demonstrates how these Chinese homeowner’s associations are a rare example of self-governing civic organizations and have contributed to a rise in citizenship behavior in China. He found that participation helped homeowners acquire democratic skills, increased awareness of property and political rights, and created informal networks for future social and political mobilization. He also found that this increased citizenship is causing local agencies to be more responsive to citizens and changing the state-society relationship, which may have political implications for the authoritarian national government. Dr. Cooper’s research is currently being reviewed for publication.
Intersectoral Governance in Community-Based Organizations: Prevalence, Challenges, and Best Practices
Many observers today regard intersectoral collaboration among public, private, and nonprofit actors as the key to achieving success in pursuing institutional or policy change, particularly in areas related to disadvantaged communities and historically marginalized populations. However, it is uncertain how often intersectoral governance actually takes place, even amongst organizations where this collaboration is encouraged or mandated. Dr. Greenwald’s research aimed to understand the challenges associated with intersectoral governance, how often and to what extent these challenges are faced, and potentially effective methods for overcoming these challenges. With this objective, Dr. Greenwald surveyed 23 community-based organizations in California that are engaged in collaborative solutions to community problems such as health or education. He used this data to develop a scale that measures the degree of success organizations have had in establishing collective governance and the factors that have fostered or impeded successful collaboration. Dr. Greenwald’s findings were presented to the Bedrosian Center in 2013.
Designing for Capacity: Performance Management as a Governance Challenge
Performance management systems at the state government level are typically established in one of two ways: by a central authority figure from the top-down or by mid-level agency administrators from the bottom-up. Often the top-down approach exercises authority but suffers a lack of information, while the bottom-up approach is better positioned to obtain information but lacks authority. Drs. Musso and Weare examined California state agencies to see how bottom-up performance management initiatives have improved state government performance and what institutional conditions help these succeed when central authority or support is lacking. Using their findings, Musso and Weare identified strategies and model practices employed by mid-level administrators to overcome these constraints and improve governance.