Power

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It
Brookings Institute, Center for Effective Public Management, Washington D.C., July 2014.

Light, Paul C.
07/14/2014

In this research paper, Paul C. Light writes that the “first step in preventing future failures is to find a reasonable set of past failures that might yield lessons for repair.” To meet this goal, Light asks four key questions about past federal government failures: (1) where did government fail, (2) why did government fail, (3) who caused the failures, and (4) what can be done to fix the underlying problems?

Acceleration with steering: The synergistic benefits of combining power with perspective-taking

Acceleration with steering: The synergistic benefits of combining power with perspective-taking
Social Psychological and Personality Science published online 11 February 2014. DOI: 10.1177/1948550613519685

Galinsky, A. D., Magee, J. C., Rus, D., Rothman, N. B., & Todd, A. R.
02/11/2014

Power is a psychological accelerator, propelling people toward their goals; however, these goals are often egocentrically focused. Perspective-taking is a psychological steering wheel that helps people navigate their social worlds; however, perspective-taking needs a catalyst to be effective. The current research explores whether combining power with perspective-taking can lead to fairer interpersonal treatment and higher quality decisions by increasing other-oriented information sharing, the propensity to communicate and integrate information that recognizes the knowledge and interests of others. Experiments 1 and 2 found that the combining power with perspective-taking or accountability increased interactional justice, the tendency for decision makers to explain their decisions candidly and respectfully. Experiment 3 involved role-based power embedded in a face-to-face dyadic decision-making task; the combination of power and perspective-taking facilitated the sharing of critical information and led to more accurate dyadic decisions. Combining power and perspective-taking had synergistic effects, producing superior outcomes to what each one achieved separately.

Neural Substrates of Social Status Inference: Roles of Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Superior Temporal Sulcus

Neural Substrates of Social Status Inference: Roles of Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Superior Temporal Sulcus
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience X:X, pp. 1–10. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00553

Mason, M. F., Magee, J. C., & Fiske, S. T.
01/06/2014

The negotiation of social order is intimately connected to the capacity to infer and track status relationships. Despite the foundational role of status in social cognition, we know little about how the brain constructs status from social interactions that display it. Although emerging cognitive neuroscience reveals that status judgments depend on the intraparietal sulcus, a brain region that supports the comparison of targets along a quantitative continuum, we present evidence that status judgments do not necessarily reduce to ranking targets along a quantitative continuum. The process of judging status also fits a social interdependence analysis. Consistent with third-party perceivers judging status by inferring whose goals are dictating the terms of the interaction and who is subordinating their desires to whom, status judgments were associated with increased recruitment of medial pFC and STS, brain regions implicated in mental state inference.

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012

Investigations Done Right and Wrong: Government by Investigation, 1945-2012
Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

Light, Paul
12/03/2013

Surveying the 100 most significant Congressional and presidential investigations of executive branch breakdowns between 1945 and 2012, Paul Light offers insight into those qualities that compose an “investigation done right.” Light’s research provides data into the quantity and quality of investigatory efforts in the modern era, as well as what these patterns reveal about what investigators can do to increase the odds that their work will pay off in improved government performance and more effective public policy.

 

Public Policy Investment: Policy Prioritization and British Statecraft

Public Policy Investment: Policy Prioritization and British Statecraft
Oxford University Press 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-966397-2.

Anthony Bertelli and Peter C. John
11/28/2013

This book addresses one of the enduring questions of democratic government: why do governments choose some public policies but not others? Political executives focus on a range of policy issues, such as the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, but they shift their priorities over time. Despite an extensive literature, it has proven surprisingly hard to explain policy prioritisation. To remedy this gap, this book offers a new approach called public policy investment: governments enhance their chances of getting re-elected by managing a portfolio of public policies and paying attention to the risks involved. In this way, government is like an investor making choices about risk to yield returns on its investments of political capital. The public provides signals about expected political capital returns for government policies, or policy assets, that can be captured through expressed opinion in public polls. Governments can anticipate these signals in the choices they make. Statecraft is the ability political leaders have to consider risk and return in their policy portfolios and do so amidst uncertainty in the public's policy valuation. Such actions represent the public's views conditionally because not every opinion change is a price signal. It then outlines a quantitative method for measuring risk and return, applying it to the case of Britain between 1971 and 2000 and offers case studies illustrating statecraft by prime ministers, such as Edward Heath or Margaret Thatcher. The book challenges comparative scholars to apply public policy investment to countries that have separation of powers, multiparty government, and decentralization.

Government by Investigation: Congress, President, and the Search for Answers, 1945–2012

Government by Investigation: Congress, President, and the Search for Answers, 1945–2012
The Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

Paul Light
10/24/2013

Presidential and congressional investigations are particularly powerful tools for asking tough questions about highly visible, often complex government breakdowns, including: communist infiltration of government 1950s, the Vietnam War during the 1960s, Watergate and Central Intelligence Agency abuses during the 1970s, among 96 others covered in Government by Investigation, by Paul Light. Light, one of America’s premier authorities on public service and management, provides a deep assessment of what he has identified as the federal government’s one hundred most significant investigations since World War II.

 

Power: Past findings, present considerations, and future directions

Power: Past findings, present considerations, and future directions
In J. Simpson (Assoc. Ed.), M. Mikulincer, & P. Shaver (Eds.), APA handbook of personality and social psychology, Vol. 3: Interpersonal relationships. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Galinsky, A. D., Rucker, D. D., & Magee, J. C.
10/08/2013

This chapter offers a comprehensive review of the psychology of power. We examine past waves of social psychological investigations into power, detail the current wave of power research that has exploded in the past decade, and capture emerging themes likely to develop into the next wave of research on power. Our review is structured around a detailed conceptual framework for understanding how power operates within and between people. Specifically, we identify the antecedents of a subjective sense of power (the structural, experiential, semantic, and physical manipulations) and the downstream effects of this sense of power on cognition, self and social perception, interpersonal behavior, motivation, emotion, and physiology. We also highlight critical moderators (e.g., individual differences, culture, status, legitimacy and stability) which influence a) whether an antecedent of power produces a sense of power or b) whether the sense of power produces a particular outcome. Finally, we review theories that account for how power guides and directs behavior and use these theories as a springboard to set an agenda for future research, including identifying factors that harness the positive consequences of power while mitigating its deleterious social effects.

Helping Without Harming: The Instructor’s Feedback Dilemma in Debriefing—A Case Study

Helping Without Harming: The Instructor’s Feedback Dilemma in Debriefing—A Case Study
Stimulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. October 2013 - Volume 8 - Issue 5 - p 304-316. doi: 10.1097/SIH.0b013e318294854e

Rudolph, J. W., Foldy, E. G. et al.
09/18/2013

Introduction

Simulation instructors often feel caught in a task-versus-relationship dilemma. They must offer clear feedback on learners’ task performance without damaging their relationship with those learners, especially in formative simulation settings. Mastering the skills to resolve this dilemma is crucial for simulation faculty development.

Methods

We conducted a case study of a debriefer stuck in this task-versus-relationship dilemma. Data: The “2-column case” captures debriefing dialogue and instructor’s thoughts and feelings or the “subjective experience.” Analysis: The “learning pathways grid” guides a peer group of faculty in a step-by-step, retrospective analysis of the debriefing. The method uses vivid language to highlight the debriefer’s dilemmas and how to surmount them.

Results

The instructor’s initial approach to managing the task-versus-relationship dilemma included (1) assuming that honest critiques will damage learners, (2) using vague descriptions of learner actions paired with guess-what-I-am-thinking questions, and (3) creating a context she worried would leave learners feeling neither safe nor clear how they could improve. This case study analysis identified things the instructor could do to be more effective including (1) making generous inferences about the learners’ qualities, (2) normalizing the challenges posed by the simulation, (3) assuming there are different understandings of what it means to be a team.

Conclusions

There are key assumptions and ways of interacting that help instructors resolve the task-versus-relationship dilemma. The instructor can then provide honest feedback in a rigorous yet empathic way to help sustain good or improve suboptimal performance in the future.

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics
Cambridge University Press.

Egan, Patrick J.
07/22/2013

Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a phenomenon called “issue ownership.” Partisan Priorities investigates the origins of issue ownership, showing that in fact the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, Patrick J. Egan finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power. Since the parties tend to be particularly ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians actually tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues. Thus, issue ownership distorts the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policies.

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