Publications

    Sandford Borins and Richard Walker, December 2012 

    The adoption of new services and practices is widespread in public organizations as they respond to demands in the external environment and internal aspirations. In order to recognize these activities and disseminate good practices, awards programs have proliferated around the globe. Given the limited empirical analysis of the characteristics of innovation award winners, this article examines the 2010 Innovations in American Government Awards (IAGA) program.

    Kenneth Winston, December 2012

    The curricula of schools of public policy and management cover three broad areas: policy analysis, strategic management, and politics. The mission is not only to educate professionals in these areas but to enable them to integrate the three in depth. What kind of professional can do this, and are there generic skills and capacities that this person must possess? This essay explores a core dimension of professional skill that Winston refers to as moral competence – the set of attributes and dispositions that make for good governance. On the assumption that the needed skills and the nature of the polity are inextricably linked, the central question is: What constitutes moral competence for a practitioner of democratic governance? Winston sketches six generic attributes that he regards as constituent components of the good practitioner, and indicates how the case method of teaching helps to cultivate these virtues.

    David Dapice, December 2012 

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently released an excellent report on Myanmar’s energy sector. In it they presented estimates of future demand growth by the Ministry of Electric Power for electricity. They show demand doubling from 12,459 million kWh in 2012-13 to 25,683 million kWh in 2018-19, a compound rate of growth of 13% a year. However, the actual production in 2012 appears to be only 10,000 million kWh, and it is unlikely that moving to 2012-13 will raise the total much beyond 10,500 million kWh. Of this output, about 1700 million kWh will be exported. (Electricity exports exceeded 1700 million kWh in both 2010 and 2011.) So, the likely electricity output in 2012-13 available for domestic use will be 3659 kWh below this year's demand estimate. Production for domestic use would have to jump by 42% to equal the expected demand. This is a massive shortfall and demand grows by over 1500 million kWh in 2013-14. So for 2013-14, supply net of exports would have to grow by nearly 5200 million kWh to account for the existing shortfall and projected growth, or by nearly 60% over 2012-13.

    When Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe learned of the emergence of H1N1 (commonly referred to as “Swine Flu”) in late April 2009, she had to quickly figure out how to coordinate an effective response within her state’s highly balkanized public health system, in which more than 90 local health departments wielded considerable autonomy. Over the next several months, she would come to rely heavily on relationships she had worked hard to establish with local health officials upon becoming commissioner – but she and her senior advisors would also have to scramble to find new ways to communicate and coordinate with their local partners, who represented jurisdictions that varied considerably in terms of size, population demographics, resources, and public health capacity.

    In late 2006, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO). Born out of recommendations made by the Bloomberg appointed public-private Commission for Economic Opportunity, CEO was designed to be an innovations lab that would test anti-poverty programs by applying a results-based approach. With a budget of $100 million, CEO would closely monitor new programs and hold them accountable for producing measurable results. Uniquely, CEO would cut funding for programs that did not “make the grade.” Bloomberg named Veronica White the Executive Director of CEO. White had decades of experience working in executive positions in several New York City agencies but with CEO she had daunting tasks ahead. She would have to redefine how poverty was measured in the city, facilitate cross agency partnerships, and, most important, develop an effective and achievable evaluation system for all programs. This case traces the CEO team’s challenges in placing program evaluation at the core of their mission. 

    Rema Hanna, October 2012 

    This paper uses a unique data-set from Indonesia on what individuals know about the income distribution in their village to test theories such as Jackson and Rogers (2007) that link information aggregation in networks to the structure of the network. The observed patterns are consistent with a basic diffusion model: more central individuals are better informed, and individuals are able to better evaluate the poverty status of those to whom they are more socially proximate. To understand what the theory predicts for cross-village patterns, this paper estimates a simple diffusion model using within-village variation, simulate network-level diffusion under this model for the over 600 different networks in our data, and use this simulated data to gauge what the simple diffusion model predicts for the cross-village relationship between information diffusion and network characteristics (e.g. clustering, density). The coefficients in these simulated regressions are generally consistent with relationships suggested in previous theoretical work, even though in our setting formal analytical predictions have not been derived. This paper then shows that the qualitative predictions from the simulated model largely match the actual data in the sense that we obtain similar results both when the dependent variable is an empirical measure of the accuracy of a village’s aggregate information and when it is the simulation outcome. Finally, this paper considers a real-world application to community based targeting, where villagers chose which households should receive an anti-poverty program, and show that networks with better diffusive properties (as predicted by our model) differentially benefit from community based targeting policies.

    David Dapice, September 2012 

    Myanmar, long isolated from western economies due to its government, is one of the poorest and worst governed countries in the world. Ruled for many years by a reclusive dictator, senior general Than Shwe, it was dependent on China for diplomatic protection and arms. Trade and investment deals reflected its lack of alternatives. China’s “One nation, two oceans“ policy and Yunnan’s “Bridgehead“ strategy envisioned Myanmar providing access to the sea via gas and oil pipelines, deep sea ports, naval docking facilities and transport for Yunnan. Yunnan through its Southern Grid along with CPI (China Power International) saw Myanmar’s Kachin state as providing ample hydroelectric supplies for the landlocked Chinese province. Deals were signed under General Than Shwe without popular review or consultation with the Kachin whose state had most of the hydroelectric sites.

    On January 15, 2009, shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canada geese. The geese were then sucked into the plane’s twin engines, causing total engine failure and the loss of power. Case A of this three-part series recounts how over the following four minutes, Flight 1549’s Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles grappled with a variety of extreme challenges. Not only did they have to keep the plane under control, but they also had to quickly decide whether they could make an emergency landing at a nearby airport – or find another alternative to get the plane down safely in one of the most crowded regions in the country. Cases B and C then describe how, after the plane landed in the cold waters of the Hudson River, emergency responders from many agencies and private organizations – converging on the scene without a prior action plan for this type of emergency – scrambled to both rescue passengers and crew and stabilize the aircraft as it began to move downstream.

    This case prompts readers to consider the challenges of responding to a sudden crisis involving intense pressure and significant uncertainty. By highlighting the actions the captain and crew of US Airways Flight 1549 took following the failure of the plane’s two engines. Cases B and C illustrate the complexities of coordinating a multi-organizational response involving actors from a range of public agencies and private sector partners.

    On January 15, 2009, shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canada geese. The geese were then sucked into the plane’s twin engines, causing total engine failure and the loss of power. Case A of this three-part series recounts how over the following four minutes, Flight 1549’s Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles grappled with a variety of extreme challenges. Not only did they have to keep the plane under control, but they also had to quickly decide whether they could make an emergency landing at a nearby airport – or find another alternative to get the plane down safely in one of the most crowded regions in the country. Cases B and C then describe how, after the plane landed in the cold waters of the Hudson River, emergency responders from many agencies and private organizations – converging on the scene without a prior action plan for this type of emergency – scrambled to both rescue passengers and crew and stabilize the aircraft as it began to move downstream.

    The Education of Nations: How the Political Organization of the Poor, Not Democracy, Led Governments to Invest in Mass Education

    Stephen Kosack, Oxford University Press, 2012 

    What causes a government to invest – or not invest – in poor citizens, especially mass education? In The Education of Nations, Stephen Kosack focuses on three radically different developing countries whose developmental trajectories bear little resemblance to each other – Brazil, Ghana, and Taiwan – and offers an elegant and pragmatic answer to this crucially important question. Quite simply, the level of investment in mass education is the product of one of two simple conditions, one political and one economic. The first condition is the nature and success of political entrepreneurs at organizing the poor politically; the second is the flexibility of the labor market faced by employers who need skilled workers.

    This case examines the steps political leaders, emergency management professionals, and public health officials in Louisiana and Texas took to improve their capacity to evacuate, shelter, and repatriate individuals with special needs following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, both of which revealed serious shortcomings when it came to the execution of evacuation processes. (In the context of evacuation management, the term “special needs“ generally refers to people requiring assistance to move out of harm’s way, including those with disabilities and medical conditions, the elderly, the institutionalized, the homebound, and people without direct access to their own means of transportation.) The case also looks at how well the states’ revised plans prepared them to manage yet another round of special needs evacuations when, in 2008, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike threatened the New Orleans and Houston metropolitan regions, respectively.

    Francisca M. Rojas, June 2012 

    The public disclosure of transit information by agencies is a successful case of open data adoption in the United States. Transit transparency offers insights into the elements that enable effective disclosure and delivery of digital information to the public in cases where there is a strong demand for that information, and where the disclosed information is available at the right place and time for users to act upon.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    Electricity is a fundamental input to every modern economy. Electricity consumption per capita in Myanmar is among the lowest in Asia and had been growing very slowly since the 1980s. It gently grew from 45 kWh per capita in 1987 to 99 kWh in 2008, a 3.8 percent annual growth rate. However, since 2008, the production of electricity has jumped very quickly. This 50 percent jump in three years is about 15 percent per year, far higher than in the past. The CSO does not report any increase in installed capacity since 2009/10, so the existing system is being worked much more intensively. This creates problems, such as the risk of sudden outages from failures in generators. Indeed, there has been an increase in blackouts in the Yangon and Mandalay areas in the last year in spite of higher output; and even during the wet season. With increases in tourism, exports and overall economic activity, electricity demand will continue to soar. Even with 2011/12 output, estimated consumption in Myanmar is only about 160 kWh per capita, compared to 2009 consumption of over 250 kWh per capita in Bangladesh and nearly 600 in Indonesia. Vietnam had over 1000 kWh per capita in 2011.

    David Dapice, May 2012 

    There is an immense challenge facing the leadership in Myanmar. They have to negotiate a nation and to reform the basic assumptions and processes that have ruled for the past decades. They need to make the new system more representative, more inclusive, less favorable to a narrow group of businessmen and government or army officials, and more broadly successful. The new system has to give minority groups a reason to want to be part of the new nation. That means not only creating new sources of growth and wealth, but also making rules that ensure the benefits go to many more than the relatively narrow groups who have largely benefitted in the past. The technical adjustments needed in the exchange rate, the financial system, taxing and spending, infrastructure investments, and competition policy will all ultimately be judged on the ability of the policy package to create the conditions for national unity and progress. The government needs to have a vision of this goal and how the pieces fit together. Getting it to work in a shaky world economy with new and still evolving institutions is a huge challenge. But for those who have seen the past clearly for what it was, there can be no doubt that moving forward together is better than going back or staying put.

    Dwight H. Perkins, April 2012 

    Myanmar faces fundamental choices about its economic future when the sanctions are lifted, and many of these choices will be present even if some of the sanctions remain. There is no technical reason why Myanmar cannot achieve a GDP growth rate of 8 percent a year or more for several decades. If the country did achieve a growth rate of that magnitude, the standard of living of its people would double over the next decade and increase four-fold over the next two decades. Poverty would fall dramatically, first in the more developed regions and then nationwide. In the most recent two decades, in contrast, Myanmar's electric power consumption suggests that GDP growth per capita has at best been negligible and may even have been negative.

    Pincus, Jonathan, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Pham Duy Nghia, Ben Wilkinson, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh. 2012. “Structural Reform for Growth, Equity, and National Sovereignty”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Jonathan Pincus, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Pham Duy Nghia, Ben Wilkinson, and Nguyen Xuan Thanh, January 2012

    This paper has been prepared for the third annual Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP), to be held at Harvard Kennedy School from February 12 to 17, 2012. The goal of this paper is to provide participants in the VELP forum, including Vietnamese government officials, international scholars, and corporate executives, with an assessment of some of the key public policy challenges confronting Vietnam today. This paper is by no means comprehensive; by necessity, it has not been possible to undertake an exhaustive study of every policy area. In selecting which issues to address, the authors have been guided by the priorities of the Vietnamese government as they have been articulated in policy statements promulgated over the past year.

    Dapice, David O., Michael J. Montesano, Anthony J. Saich, and Thomas J. Vallely. 2012. “Appraising the Post-Sanctions Prospects for Myanmar's Economy: Choosing the Right Path”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    David O. Dapice, Michael J. Montesano, Anthony J. Saich, Thomas J. Vallely, January 2012

    This paper is the first iteration in an ongoing effort by the Ash Center and Proximity Designs to describe a growth strategy for Myanmar that takes account of political and economic realities – assuming that sanctions will soon be removed. Myanmar is a country facing a difficult political and economic transition. In spite of the implications of official statistics and recent surveys, it is a very poor country, long mired in conflict and cut off from much of the world. It has an immense struggle ahead, as it tries to create a more modern and capable state apparatus, a competitive private sector and economy, and an economic and political system that reflects popular sentiments. It is not just behind its neighbors; it is starting from a different place altogether.

    Joseph W. Pfeifer, January 2012

    Repairs to sanitation plows and salt-spreaders usually go unnoticed, but when a truck smashes through a wall and is dangling four stories above the ground, it draws intense media attention. On August 17, 2011, at 0928 hours, a 15.5-ton truck lost control inside the Department of Sanitation's Central Repair Facility in Maspeth, Queens, and plowed through an upper floor wall. When FDNY units arrived, the driver, Robert Legall, 56, was tightly grasping the steering wheel, as three-quarters of his truck hung precariously out a window at a 45-degree angle, some 40 feet above the street. The impact of the truck showered the sidewalk and road with bricks, shattering windshields and crushing roofs of parked cars.

    In January 2011 senior Indonesian officials were contemplating the results of a new travel survey that showed that the number of trips in the Jakarta metropolitan area was growing steadily while the share of trips made on public transportation was falling rapidly. Jakarta had a reputation as one of the world’s most congested cities, and the situation was getting worse because the population and average incomes in the metropolitan area were growing rapidly.

Pages