Spring Quarter 2012

April 9

Evan Schofer, UC Irvine

The Structural Sources of Association

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

Where do associations come from? The authors argue that the expansion and openness of state institutions encourage the formation of associations. Moreover, the institutional structures of world society provide important resources and legitimation for association. Longitudinal cross-national data on voluntary associations are analyzed using panel models with fixed effects and instrumental variables models to address possible endogeneity. Institutional features of the state and the structures of world society are linked to higher levels of association, as are wealth and education. These factors differentially affect specific types of association, helping make sense of the distinctive configurations of civil society observed around the globe.

April 16

Tom Medvetz, UC San Diego

The Crystallization of the Space of Think Tanks: Technocrats and Activist-Experts in the American Field of Expertise

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

While the academic discussion about think tanks has deepened over the last decade, the origins of the organizational category itself remain murky. In this paper, I show that the think tank category emerged in the United States as a formerly disparate array of organizations formed into a relatively distinct institutional niche with its own interior structure and dynamics. What caused the formation of this space of think tanks? I argue that the process began in the late 1960s through a convergence between two sets of experts in the American field of expertise. The first was a set of non-state technocrats who had come to play a growing role in political affairs since the Progressive Era. The second was an emerging breed of largely conservative “activist-experts” who put forward a major challenge to technocratic authority starting in the 1960s and 1970s. As the technocrats “opened” their knowledge in response to the challenges posed by the activist-experts, the activist-experts engaged in closure processes to certify their knowledge. Over the next two decades, as the two groups became more oriented to one another in their judgments and practices, they formed denser network ties, entered into routine forms of competition and collaboration, and collectively established Intellectual products distinct from those of academia.

April 23

Bo Rothstein, University of Gothenburg

Corruption, Bureaucratic Failure, and Social Policy Priorities

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

This paper argues that bureaucratic capacity - the competence and reliability of the national bureaucracy - matters to the allocation of public spending among welfare state programs since it is difficult for governments to justify high levels of spending on programs that require bureaucrats to make case-by-case decisions, on a discretionary basis, if the bureaucracy is inefficient, corrupt, or both. We expect bureaucratic capacity to have a positive effect on pro-grams that involve bureaucratic discretion, but no effect on programs that are more straight-forward to implement. In order to test these hypotheses, we analyze public spending on active labor market programs (which involve a lot of discretion) and parental leave benefits (which involve less discretion). Relying on data for 20 advanced democracies from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s, we find that high bureaucratic capacity does have a positive effect on active labor market policy spending, but not on parental leave benefits.

April 30

Co-sponsored by the Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies: Dan Lainer-Vos, USC

Gift Giving and Nation Building: The Construction of Irish American and Jewish American National Philanthropic Networks

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

Despite the centrality of gift giving and reciprocity in the national rhetoric and the self understanding of members, scholars have generally refrained from studying giving to the nation as a mechanism of nation building and instead treat willingness to sacrifice for the nation as merely a sign of already existing national attachments. This avoidance is related to the difficulties involved in transposing to a modern setting a model that was developed to describe pre-modern societies. While gift giving is widely acknowledged as a practice that creates social ties and obligation, in modern settings researchers often treat gift giving as an interpersonal matter, not relevant to the grander scale of the nation. This paper challenges this avoidance by examining the mechanisms that the Irish republicans and the Zionist movement created to secure a stream of donations from their compatriots in the United States in the 1910s and 1940s respectively. Instead of treating philanthropic giving as a mere instrumentality, or as a sign of already-existing sentiments, I treat charitable giving as a medium through which diaspora groups negotiate their position within the nation. My analysis focuses on the minute practices developed in order to procure donations. It shows that rather than simply emphasizing the unity of the nation as a means to loosen purse strings, national giving rests on a concomitant marking and blurring of the differences between homeland and diaspora groups. I use this observation to argue that internal differences are not merely an obstacle but can sometimes play a productive constitutive role in the process of nation building. 

May 7

Per Laegreid, University of Bergen

New Public Management and the Rise of Public Accountability

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

This paper aims to link the rise of public accountability to the wave of New Public Management (NPM) reforms that has swept through most advanced democratic administrations in recent decades. The paper discusses how the NPM reforms have impacted on accountability and, conversely, how many accountability reforms have been parachuted by NPM. The quest for stronger accountability was a driver of many NPM reforms. A key premise was that with effective vertical managerial accountability better performance would follow. Still the relationship between accountability and performance is contested and it is becoming increasingly clear that we have to operate with a multi-dimensional accountability concept going beyond hierarchical accountability. The paper will discuss tensions and dilemmas in the relationship between NPM and accountability, the volatile relationship between accountability and performance, and the ambiguities and appropriateness of accountability under NPM. It will also address accountability in relation to post-NPM reforms and challenges for future research. 

May 21

Lis Clemens, University of Chicago

The Limits of the ‘American System’: Becalmed by Peace, Overwhelmed by Need

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

After the First World War, there were multiple efforts to transpose the powerful model of wartime voluntarism for domestic purposes. But while wartime leaders such as the American Red Cross struggled to link their impressive organizational capacity to new purposes, municipal and business elites deployed the wartime infrastructure of civic benevolence to sustain city-level welfare-systems that were publicly-supported but not democratically controlled. With the onset of the drought and industrial unemployment that would become the Great Depression, the omnicompetent hero of wartime relief and the 1927 Mississippi Flood, Herbert Hoover, turned again to his signature methods of civic benevolence and associationalism. The result was a stunning, but ultimately inadequate, surge of voluntary contributions. That combination of unprecedented success but substantive inadequacy powerfully delegimated voluntarism as an alternative to government welfare and social insurance programs.

June 4

Elizabeth Popp Berman, University of Albany

Economic Expertise and the Policy Process: Changing Means, Ends, and Models in Three U.S. Policy Domains

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

As Fourcade (2009) has noted, public policy has been “economicized” in recent decades, with government agencies employing more economists, and other policy disciplines adopting the tools of economics.  To better understand this process, we draw on historical evidence to compare the role of economics in three U.S. policymaking domains (science and technology, antipoverty, and antitrust policy) in which it has had a significant influence.  In each domain policymakers came to see “the economy” as an abstract system that policy affects, and outcomes that are normatively desirable within economics (productivity, efficiency, and growth) as of greater importance.  Broad economic theories (Solow growth models in S&T, human capital models in antipoverty policy, and price theory in antitrust policy) also reshaped how policymakers understood each domain.  Yet the way economics had its impact varied considerably.  Antitrust policy became much more technical, with economists coming to dominate the FTC and Antitrust Division and judges attending “economics summer camp.”  But while economic models also transformed S&T and antipoverty policy, they did so by changing the terms of debate, not by providing formally rational tools for making policy decisions.  The paper concludes by discussing some organizational and institutional reasons for these differences.

June 11

Omar Lizardo, Notre Dame University

How organizational theory can help network theorizing: Linking structure and dynamics via cross-level analogies

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123

Organizational theory can, in addition to being a receptacle of insights from network theory, be an active contributor to the latter’s conceptual development.  In this talk I make explicit a theoretical strategy that has only been used informally by network theorists so far, which--following Vaughan (2002)--I refer to as analogical theorizing.  Using the basic correspondence between a dyadic tie as the most minimal form of “organization,” I show that insights and mechanisms extracted from various theoretical strands of organizational theory can help us build substantive theory on the dynamics of dyadic relationships, in particular as it pertains to issue of emergence, maintenance and decay over time.

June 18

Josh Whitford, Columbia University

Pragmatism, Practice, and the Boundaries of Organization

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS 123