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PAR Preview ▪ Issue 81 ▪ April 2017

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Public Administration and the Disciplines

Rosemary O’Leary, Editor

Transaction Costs and the Perceived Effectiveness of Complex Institutional Systems

Mark Lubell (University of California, Davis), Jack M. Mewhirter (University of Cincinnati), Ramiro Berardo (The Ohio State University), and John T. Scholz (Florida State University) study factors affecting how policy actors perceive the effectiveness of political institutions involved in complex water governance systems. The ecology of games framework argues that participants are more likely to perceive institutions as effective when the benefits of solving collective action problems outweigh the transaction costs of developing political contracts within these institutions. The authors hypothesize that transaction costs are a function of conflict, type of participation, political knowledge, scientific knowledge, and actor resources. Survey results suggest that the importance of these different sources of transaction costs varies across study sites in the Tampa Bay watershed in Florida, the Sacramento–San Joaquin River delta in California, and the Paraná River delta in Argentina. Based on the observed differences, some initial ideas are sketched about the evolution of complex governance systems from fairly simple and informal rules and networks to well-established tapestries of many formal institutions. Link to PAR Early View


Public Administration and the Disciplines

Rosemary O’Leary, Editor

Relational Leadership, Storytelling, and Narratives: Practices of Local Government Chief Executives

Kevin Orr (University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom) and Mike Bennett (Public Intelligence, United Kingdom) examine the storytelling and narrative practices of an elite group of public administrators in the United Kingdom: local government chief executives. They do so through the lens of relationality, exploring the collective dimensions of leadership. The focus on leadership and stories embraces the narrative turn in public administration scholarship. It responds to calls for research examining the distinctive settings of everyday leadership action. The contribution to theory is a qualitative understanding of the relational ways in which stories and narratives are used in the practices of public administration leaders. The article analyzes four ways in which such leadership is accomplished: inviting an emotional connection and commitment to public service, making sense of organizational realities, provoking reflections on practices and assumptions, and managing relations with politicians. The authors offer an appreciation of how relational leadership influence can be generated by expressive narratives and storytelling rather than stemming from bureaucratic authority. Link to PAR Early View


Evidence in Public Administration

Kimberly R. Isett, Brian W. Head, and Gary VanLandingham, Editors
Social Media: How One City Opens the Evidence Black Box

Government agencies at all levels are launching social media strategies, but one area that remains elusive is data to show what is “working.” In this essay, Warren Kagarise (City of Issaquah, Washington) and Staci M. Zavattaro (University of Central Florida) detail how the City of Issaquah, Washington, developed, implemented, and now continually evaluates its social media programming. Link to PAR Early View


Research Article

Transformational Leadership and Organizational Processes: Influencing Public Performance

Leaders are essential actors in public performance improvement and organizational change. However, a key question has not been adequately addressed in prior literature on the topic: how do leadership processes make a difference? Using data on New York City public schools, Rusi Sun (University of Michigan‒Dearborn) and Alexander C. Henderson (Long Island University) explore the organizational mechanisms by which a specific form of principal’s leadership—transformational leadership—influences objective organizational outcomes as measured by standardized test scores. The empirical results indicate that a principal’s transformational leadership style affects student test scores through the mediating effects of purposeful performance information use and stakeholder engagement. Link to PAR Early View


Research Article

Developing and Testing an Integrative Framework for Open Government Adoption in Local Governments

Open government is an important innovation to foster trustworthy and inclusive governments. Stephan G. Grimmelikhuijsen (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and Mary K. Feeney (Arizona State University) develop and test an integrative theoretical framework drawing from theories on policy diffusion and innovation adoption. Based on this, they investigate how structural, cultural, and environmental variables explain three dimensions of open government: accessibility, transparency, and participation. The framework is tested by combining 2014 survey data and observational data from 500 local U.S. government websites. Organizational structure, including technological and organizational capacity, is a determinant shared by all dimensions of open government. Furthermore, accessibility is affected by a mixture of an innovative and participative culture and external pressures. A flexible and innovative culture positively relates to higher levels of transparency, whereas capacity is a strong predictor of adopting participatory features. The main conclusion is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to fostering the three dimensions of open government, as each dimension is subject to a unique combination of determinants. Link to PAR Early View


Research Article

Institutional Analysis of Neighborhood Collective Action

Sublocal governance organizations may provide a way for some urban neighborhoods to stabilize and improve property values. Recent advances in collective action theory, spatial statistical methods, and data availability now make it possible to more directly evaluate the effects of these organizations. Michael Craw (University of Arkansas at Little Rock) combines geocoded assessor’s data and data from a survey of neighborhood and homeowner associations to analyze a model of prices of single-family homes in Little Rock, Arkansas, from 2012 to 2016. The results show that neighborhood and homeowner associations both have significant positive effects on neighborhood property values relative to unorganized neighborhoods and that the effect of neighborhood associations is at least as large as that of homeowner associations. Moreover, the results indicate that neighborhood association structure mediates the effect on property values, although this is not the case for homeowner associations. Link to PAR Early View


Research Article

Managing the Entanglement: Complexity Leadership in Public Sector Systems

Complexity in public sector systems requires leaders to balance the administrative practices necessary to be aligned and efficient in the management of routine challenges and the adaptive practices required to respond to dynamic circumstances. Conventional notions of leadership in the field of public administration do not fully explain the role of leadership in balancing the entanglement of formal, top-down, administrative functions and informal, emergent, adaptive functions within public sector settings with different levels of complexity. Drawing on and extending existing complexity leadership constructs, Joanne Murphy (Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom), Mary Lee Rhodes (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland), Jack W. Meek (University of La Verne), and David Denyer (Cranfield University, United Kingdom) explore how leadership is enacted over the duration of six urban regeneration projects representing high, medium, and low levels of project complexity. The article suggests that greater attention needs to be paid to the tensions inherent in enabling leadership if actors are to cope with the complex, collaborative, cross-boundary, adaptive work in which they are increasingly engaged. Link to PAR Early View

Murphy et al. Podcast Episode

Research Article

Corruption and State and Local Government Debt Expansion

Theories describing rent seeking in the public sector posit a number of negative fiscal outcomes that the choices of corrupt officials may generate. The evidence presented by Cheol Liu (KDI School of Public Policy and Management, South Korea), Tima T. Moldogaziev (The University of Georgia), and John L. Mikesell (Indiana University, Bloomington) shows that states with greater intensities of public corruption have higher aggregate levels of state and local debt. If corruption in the 10 most corrupt states were only at an average level, their public debt would be 9 percent lower, or about $249.35 per capita, all else being equal. Notably, institutional control measures may not have succeeded in restraining the expansion of state and local public debt in the presence of greater levels of corruption. State and local governments would achieve more efficient levels of fiscal discipline by curbing public sector corruption. Link to PAR Early View

Liu, Moldogaziev, and Mikesell Podcast Episode


Research Article

From Birth to Death: The Life of the Standards Board for England

Organizations wax and wane, and some cease to exist altogether. The Standards Board for England was abolished after a 10-year life. Created to regulate the ethical behavior of local politicians in England, the ethics of politics was undermined by the politics of ethics. Alan Lawton (Federation University Australia, Australia) and Michael Macaulay (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand) analyze the life of the Standards Board initially through the lens of a life-cycle approach to organizations but find that a problem-cluster approach provides a sharper picture. Over its lifetime, the Standards Board faced a number of crises; its failure to resolve these crises and an unfavorable political climate led to its demise. Link to PAR Early View


Public Administration Review is published by Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration.

Editor-in-Chief: James L. Perry ▪ Editors: Richard Feiock        Gregg Van Ryzin

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