Agendas and Decisions: How State Government Executives and Middle Managers Make and Administer Policy
Connecting theory and practice, Agendas and Decisions explores how state-level public executives and managers decide and implement policy. The authors focus on Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander’s (1979–1987) management system, which believed in and practiced the principles espoused by leadership theorists: focus on one or two important substantive problems or initiatives, work with stakeholders to protect the organization and to obtain necessary resources, hire good people, and authorize them to act. In addition to sending his cabinet members to the Kennedy School of Government to learn leadership principles, he also established the Tennessee Government Executive Institute (TGEI) to provide a similar program for mid-level executives. Authors Dorothy F. Olshfski and Robert B. Cunningham managed the TGEI during its first five years and had unprecedented access to state-level public executives and managers. Here, they explain the everyday workings of state-level bureaucracy within the context of a simple decision model and share managers’ and executives’ own stories. Their research questions several aspects of the current orthodoxy on decision-making processes, offers new thinking about executive leadership in implementation and evaluation, and compares executive and middle-manager thinking and behavior.
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