Publications

    John D. Donahue, March 2005 

    In a phrase coined by Lord Bryce and popularized by Justice Louis Brandeis, America 's separate states are seen as "laboratories of democracy," giving the United States fifty channels for generating fresh new approaches to public problems. The potential advantages are apparent. But how fully this potential is realized depends on how rapidly and reliably innovations developed in each "laboratory" diffuse to other states. The literature on the diffusion of innovations is limited, and rather stale. The archives of the Innovations in American Government offer a promising but mostly untapped data set for exploring the replication of valuable innovations. Alan Gerber of Yale and Eric Patashnik of Virginia asked John D. Donahue to write a paper that exploits the history of Innovations to test alternative hypotheses about the diffusion of state-level innovations, for a major conference and book project on "American Democracy and the Political Economy of Government Performance." A research award from the Ash Institute has made it possible for him and a team of research assistants to identify state-level award winners and begin work this summer to trace the pace and pattern of their diffusion. This paper was produced as the result of a research competition open to faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government sponsored by the Ash Institute of Democratic Governance and Innovation.

    Kuznezov, Laila, Janes Imanuel Ginting, and Gregorius Kelik Agus Endarso. 2005. “Improving Budget Transparency in Bandung City, West Java Province, Indonesia”. Read the case study Abstract

    Laila Kuznezov, Janes Imanuel Ginting, Gregorius Kelik Agus Endarso, 2005 

    BIGS is a watchdog NGO in Bandung City, and has become well known for aggressively researching and disseminating budget data for the local government. Since BIGS began focusing on budget transparency in 2002, it has promoted greater government accountability by making citizens more aware of how government allocates and spends money. This has resulted not only in greater public awareness of government spending priorities, but elimination of budgetary allocations to some sectors that are viewed as "easily corruptible."

    From Walden to Wall Street: Frontiers of Conservation Finance
    Levitt, James N., and Lydia K. Bergen, ed. 2005. From Walden to Wall Street: Frontiers of Conservation Finance. Island Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    James N. Levitt and Lydia K. Bergen, editors, Island Press, 2005

    In the absence of innovation in the field of conservation finance, a daunting funding gap faces conservationists aiming to protect America's system of landscapes that provide sustainable resources, water, wildlife habitat, and recreational amenities. Experts estimate that the average annual funding gap will be between $1.9 billion and $7.7 billion over the next forty years. Can the conservation community come up with new methods for financing that will fill this enormous gap? Which human and financial resources will allow us to fund critical land conservation needs? From Walden to Wall Street brings together the experience of more than a dozen pioneering conservation finance practitioners to address these crucial issues. Contributors present groundbreaking ideas, including mainstreaming environmental markets; government ballot measures for land conservations; convertible tax-exempt financing; and private equity markets.

    Frederick M. Hess, 2005 

    This report draws on the 2005 Innovations in American Government education finalists to understand what meaningful innovation in the education field looks like and how to promote it. The Innovations Awards finalists include promising initiatives such as Big Picture Company's efforts to promote more personalized high school and High Tech High's effort in San Diego to develop a model that integrates technology throughout a rigorous high school curriculum. However, to date, educational innovation has had a limited reach and modest impact due in large part to a bureaucratic system that discourages entrepreneurial personalities while rewarding employees who respect the standard rules and procedures. In order to harness the power of these innovative education programs, schooling needs to be reformed so that it no longer merely tolerates entrepreneurs but fosters their efforts, rewards their successes and encourages their growth.

    Kuznezov, Laila, Janes Imanuel Ginting, and Gregorius Kelik Agus Endarso. 2005. “The Community Block Grant Program in Blitar City, East Java Province, Indonesia”. Read the full report Abstract

    Laila Kuznezov, Janes Imanuel Ginting, Gregorius Kelik Agus Endarso, 2005 

    This study evaluates the impact of the block grant program implemented in Blitar City since 2002. A community block grant program allocates a portion of the city government's budget for small projects that are disbursed directly to communities. The program was designed to increase public participation and self-management at the local level, as well as to serve as a vehicle for local officials and communities to exercise their autonomy. The block grant program initially addressed communities' immediate needs, mostly for small-scale infrastructure improvements. In the longer term, this program has the potential to empower communities to participate systematically in both the design and implementation of more effective development programs.

    Gowher Rizvi, 2005 

    The purpose of this paper is to explain the failure of constitutionalism in Bangladesh, a country which -- except perhaps for brief interludes of constitutional governments -- has remained for much of its history under arbitrary and authoritarian rule, albeit often behind a constitutional and a democratic facade. Despite going ongoing popular fervor and passion for democratic government, the Bangalis have been subjected to authoritarian rule for much of the last half century. The commitment of the Bangali to constitutionalism is well known. It is evidenced by periodic popular movement against authoritarian rule, and most dramatically demonstrated by the war of liberation in 1971. Ironically, however, the quest for constitutionalism appears to have been derailed from the very outset. The central thrust of the author's argument is that in the period from 1947 to 1971, the constitutional debate became mired by an effort of the unrepresentative (those who were not popularly elected or did not enjoy a popular mandate) ruling elites to institutionalize their dominance of the government through the manipulation of the constitutional arrangements.

    Their efforts to alter the facts of the national reality took the 'spirit' out the constitution and made a mockery of constitutional governance. This was done first by denying the Bangalis their majority status (they constituted more than half of the total population of Bangladesh) by thrusting on them the principle of representational parity with other smaller groups which placed the minority groups at par with the majority and were given representational weightage far in excess of their numbers; and subsequently, and more blatantly under the authoritarian rule of the military, by contriving to keep the authoritarian and unelected leaders in power by denying the very principle of popular elections. Once the ruling elite in Pakistan were able to do away with the need for seeking a popular mandate by various political gimmicks in place of popular elections - no general election was held in Pakistan between 1947 and 1970 - the will of the majority ceased to count.

    The author also argues that it was this constitutional failure that led Bangladesh to secede from Pakistan. And yet devoid of any constitutional culture the country was back under authoritarian rule after a brief period of constitutional government between 1972-75. Even though the constitution was never formally abrogated, it was nonetheless seriously mutilated and only the most superficial semblance of a constitutional facade was preserved. Successive military rulers, backed by unelected and self-appointed representatives, abused the constitution and acquired untrammeled power to govern without popular mandate or due constitutional processes.

    Olivia Golden, 2005

    The innovations recognized through the Innovations in American Government Awards Program are selected because they are novel, effective, significant, and replicable. But, from the perspective of improving public sector outcomes, an important next question is not about the innovations themselves but about the conditions that make them necessary. This paper draws on the cases of the Innovations Awards 2005 finalists to address two questions: Why did these ineffective practices persist until the innovation occurred? Why did innovation happen at the time that it did?

    Three major themes emerge in this report:

    1. Many different reasons--from political context to long-term underinvestment to internal agency failures--explain why problems persisted and an innovation was needed.
    2. Two of these reasons were particularly striking:
      • Failures in the political environment, such as conflicting goals or a stalemate among different political interests; and
      • Fragmented operational authority, where no one person had control of enough pieces to solve the problem.
    3. While both of these problems may seem hard to solve, the innovations offered an intriguing list of approaches to solving them, providing a useful starting point for further exploration. In particular, the solutions to fragmented operation
    Nachuk, Stefan, Maulina Cahyaningrum, Susannah Hopkins Leisher, Arya B. Gaduh, Nunik Yunarti, Lina Marliani, and Luis Fujiwara. 2005. “Creating Learning Communities for Children in Polman District, West Sulawesi Province, Indonesia”. Read the case study Abstract

    Creating Learning Communities for Children (CLCC) is a training package that focuses on school-based management, community participation, and joyful/active learning. This study traces its implementation in two schools in Polewali district in South Sumatra, since its introduction in 2001. The results indicate that CLCC had a lasting impact on improved learning practices in the school. However, no impact on test scores could be identified, parental involvement increased little, and most school committees continued to focus largely on revenue collection.

    Fung, Archon, David Weil, Mary Graham, and Elena Fagotto. 2004. “The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Effective?”. Read the full report Abstract

    Archon Fung, David Weil, Mary Graham and Elena Fagotto, December 2004 

    Transparency systems have emerged in recent years as a mainstream regulatory tool, an important development in social policy. Transparency systems are government mandates that require corporations or other organizations to provide the public with factual information about their products and practices. Such systems have a wide range of regulatory purposes which include protecting investors, improving public health and safety, reducing pollution, minimizing corruption and improving public services.

    Elaine Kamarck, November 2003

    For some countries government reform and innovation involves the reform of an old bureaucracy in the context of a newly democratic state. For other countries, this entails an all out fight against corruption. For still other countries, the challenge is to modernize large, outmoded bureaucracies and bring them into the information age. While countries have come to government reform for very different reasons, government reform and innovation is a global phenomenon. This paper provides a review of government innovations undertaken in the last 20 years in many countries around the world including the United States.

    Steven Kelman, May 2004

    The need for government organizations to change how they work is a major theme among practitioners and observers of government, discussed informally and repeated constantly at conferences for practitioners. The need for organizational change is also a preoccupying theme in the business world. But the impetus for change in government is somewhat different. In the private sector, the assumption is that the organization's current performance is good, but that shifts in the organization's environment demands changes in what the organization produces or how it produces it. In government, by contrast, the impetus for organizational change is typically that current performance isn't what it should be. Government isn't working as well as it should, and organizational change is needed to improve performance.

    Despite the Odds: The Contentious Politics of Education Reform

    Merilee S. Grindle, Princeton University Press, 2004

    Despite the Odds poses an important question: How can we account for successful policy reform initiatives when the political cards are stacked against change? Theories of politics usually predict that reform initiatives will be unsuccessful when powerful groups are opposed to change and institutions are biased against it. This book, however, shows how the strategic choices of reform proponents alter the destinies of policy reforms by reshaping power equations and undermining institutional biases that impede change. Despite the Odds opens the "black box" of decision making in five initiatives designed to enhance the quality of education services in Latin America. The book addresses the strategies used by reformers to manage the political process of change and those adopted by opposition groups and institutions resisting their efforts.

    Despite the Odds: The Contentious Politics of Education Reform

    Merilee S. Grindle, Princeton University Press, 2004

    Despite the Odds poses an important question: How can we account for successful policy reform initiatives when the political cards are stacked against change? Theories of politics usually predict that reform initiatives will be unsuccessful when powerful groups are opposed to change and institutions are biased against it. This book, however, shows how the strategic choices of reform proponents alter the destinies of policy reforms by reshaping power equations and undermining institutional biases that impede change. Despite the Odds opens the "black box" of decision making in five initiatives designed to enhance the quality of education services in Latin America. The book addresses the strategies used by reformers to manage the political process of change and those adopted by opposition groups and institutions resisting their efforts.

    Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector
    Goldsmith, Stephen, and William D. Eggers, ed. 2004. Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector. Ash Center and Brookings Institution Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Stephen Goldsmith and William D. Eggers editors, Ash Center and Brookings Institution Press, 2004

    A fundamental, but mostly hidden, transformation is happening in the way public services are being delivered, and in the way local and national governments fulfill their policy goals. Government executives are redefining their core responsibilities away from managing workers and providing services directly to orchestrating networks of public, private, and nonprofit organizations to deliver the services that government once did itself. Authors Stephen Goldsmith and William D. Eggers call this new model "governing by network" and maintain that the new approach is a dramatically different type of endeavor that simply managing divisions of employeesGoverning by Network examines for the first time how managers on both sides of the aisle, public and private, are coping with the changes. Here is a clear roadmap for actually governing the networked state for elected officials, business executives, and the broader public.

    View a presentation on the book

    Winthrop Carty, November 2003

    The Workshop on Innovation and Quality was led by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, a center at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, in partnership with the Ford Foundation Innovations Liaison Group (of which Ash is a member), the Government of Mexico, and the American Society for Quality. It was held over two days, 5 and 6 November, as one of six workshops of the Fifth Global Forum on Reinventing Government under the auspices of the United Nations and the Government of Mexico. The workshop was attended by over 300 participants who engaged the presenters of 12 examples of government innovation from Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, and the United States. The audience was approximately 85% Mexican government officials and 15% other nationalities (diverse regional representation). They participated actitely and contributed valuable insight to discussions with presenters.

    Anil Gupta, October 2003

    This paper presents an analysis of small grassroots innovations in India including the Honey Bee Network, underlying how small innovations can make a big difference. When the Honey Bee Network was started about 14 years ago, most innovators in three fields of technology, primary education, and common property institutions were poorly networked among themselves, though they were networked reasonably well within their communities. High degrees of fortitude, stubbornness, and to an extent, tendency to go alone were quite common and pronounced traits among the innovators. They were difficult to influence and even more difficult to convince of the need to network with others of their kind. It is against this context that the evolution of the Honey Bee Network and its influence on public policy, institutions, and structures is evaluated.

    William Eggers, May 2003

    Through the example of the General Service Administration, Eggers presents an analysis of how technology-enabled transformation entails breaking old habits, learning to do business in new ways, and adopting a radically different approach to serving your customers. Since nearly all the incentives in government work against all of these things, strong leadership is indispensable to achieving fundamental change in government.

    Donahue, John D. 2003. “Jamming in the Symphony”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    John D. Donahue, April 2003

    In this document, the introductory chapter to Making Washington Work: Tales of Innovation in the Federal Government, John Donahue acknowledges that the culture of the federal government includes an institutionalized bias toward continuity at the expense of change. His paper offers insights that heighten awareness of, and appreciation for, successful federal innovations that confront this bias. It provides a framework for exploring the complexities of innovation within large and long-established bureaucracies, and addresses such issues as scale, accountability, competition, pressure, and leadership.

    Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance

    Archon Fung and Erik Olink Wright, Verso Press, 2003

    The institutional forms of liberal democracy developed in the 19th century seem increasingly ill-suited to the problems we face in the 21st. This dilemma has given rise in some places to a new, deliberative democracy, and this volume explores four contemporary empirical cases in which the principles of such a democracy have been at least partially instituted: the participatory budget in Porto Alegre; the school decentralization councils and community policing councils in Chicago; stakeholder councils in environmental protection and habitat management; and new decentralized governance structures in Kerala. In keeping with the other Real Utopias Project volumes, these case studies are framed by an editor’s introduction, a set of commentaries, and concluding notes.

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