Case Studies

Disrupting the Party: A Case Study of Ahora Madrid and Its Participatory Innovations

Quinton Mayne and Cecilia Nicolini, September 2020 

In this paper, Quinton Mayne and Cecilia Nicolini examine the rise of Ahora Madrid, a progressive electoral alliance that—to the surprise of onlookers—managed to gain political control, just a few months after being formed, of the Spanish capital following the 2015 municipal elections. Headed by the unassuming figure of Manuela Carmena, a former judge, Ahora Madrid won voters over with a bold agenda that reimagined the relationship between citizens and city hall. Mayne and Nicolini’s analysis is a case study of this innovation agenda. The paper begins by exploring how Ahora Madrid’s agenda emerged as a response to, and built off of, historic levels of political disaffection and mass mobilization spurred by the 2008–2014 Spanish financial crisis. The authors examine how the alliance’s agenda of democratic disruption was realized, first through an unusual bottom-up electoral campaign and then, after taking office, by challenging and rethinking established relations between public officials, civil society, and city residents.  

Mayne and Nicolini show that while Ahora Madrid’s time in power was not without its challenges, it still successfully implemented a set of far-reaching democratic reforms centered on institutional innovation. This included the creation of an internationally recognized online civic engagement platform, the establishment of neighborhood forums, and the implementation of a €100 million participatory budgeting process. Although Ahora Madrid lost the 2019 elections and the city swung back to the right, a number of its reforms, explored by Mayne and Nicolini in the case study’s conclusion, live on in an altered form, serving as a reminder of the alliance’s original bold vision for the city. 

Rivkin, Jan, Susie Ma, and Michael Norris. 2020. “Design Decisions for Cross-Sector Collaboration: Mini-Case Modules”. Abstract

Jan Rivkin, Susie Ma, and Michael Norris; June 2020

These five short cases aim to help city leaders explore whether working with sectors outside their own government organizations is the right path forward, and how to be effective if/when they choose to engage in cross-sector collaboration. The cases especially highlight key design decisions that every cross-sector collaboration must make, to help students reflect on design decisions of their own collaborative efforts.

Fernando Monge, Jorrit de Jong, and Linda Bilmes; June 2020  

In 2018, Bilbao was presented with the Best European City award, adding the prize to a long list the Spanish city had collected since the mid-2000s. The success was often attributed to the Guggenheim museum, giving name to the "Guggenheim effect." This was based on a fairly shallow assessment of the City's transformation. In fact, the building blocks of Bilbao's transformation are to be found in the collaborative efforts established by government entities during the 1990s, in the context of a deep economic, political, and social crisis.

de Jong, Jorrit, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal. 2020. “Driving Change in São Paulo”. Read full case study Abstract

Jorrit de Jong, Carlos Paiva, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Rawi Abdelal; May 2020 

In 2016, after many months of negotiation, the City of São Paulo approved a new ordinance regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNC). The new regulation allowed citizens to take advantage of innovative services and it enabled city leaders to manage the fleet with significant savings as well as unprecedented transparency and data. São Paulo, the first Brazilian city to adopt this model, faced internal responses ranging from vehement opposition to overwhelming support.

The case chronicles the road to implementation, including lessons learned from the TNC ordinance process and the previous pilots. It examines the efforts of key players—including Administration Secretary Paulo Spencer Uebel—to fulfill Mayor João Doria’s public commitment to fix the transportation model, consider public opinion, and minimize disruption during Doria’s first year in office. The case also explores strategies for implementing innovative practices in government as well as dealing with resistance to change in organizations, especially in the public sector.

Lisa Cox ad Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

In 2011, at the newly formed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Judith Tumusiime, an impassioned technocrat who prided herself on operating outside of politics, was charged with transforming a “filthy city” to a clean, habitable, and healthy one. Early in her tenure, she was able to vastly improve Kampala’s solid waste management (SWM) system by creating efficiencies, increasing accountability, and bringing her technical know-how to a team that held little expertise. But by 2015, after several years of strong momentum, Tumusiime felt that her progress was stalling, and she faced political challenges around creating a sustainable SWM system.

More specifically, her team was grossly overextended and needed to assign some of its SWM responsibilities to private contractors through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP). To ensure that the PPP was viable, Tumusiime strongly believed that all residents, no matter their income, needed to pay fees for garbage collection. However, the federal and local elections were approaching in February 2016, and politicians had told their constituents that they would not allow garbage collection fees, leaving Tumusiime with little support for her long-term vision. She was faced with a challenge: she could either dive into a political world that she had never wanted anything to do with to see if she could achieve radical change, or she could continue to make tweaks that might achieve short-term, small improvements at a slow—and even halting—pace.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Howard Husock, Gaylen Moore, and Jorrit de Jong, May 2020 

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, high atop a great many of the older, concrete-block buildings in lower-income areas of central Hong Kong and the neighborhoods of the Kowloon peninsula, informal metal-framed wooden structures housed thousands of families in austere, inexpensive quarters. These rooftop dwellings created a sort of shantytown in the air and, though built illegally, were nonetheless bought, sold, and rented on the open market. These structures were just one example of the larger phenomenon of so-called unauthorized building works (UBWs) in Hong Kong. These included balconies added to windows—sometimes used for beds—as well as hundreds of thousands of storefront street signs and canopy extensions on buildings in commercial districts, used to create rental space below for stores and restaurants on the ground floor. By 1999, the total number of UBWs was estimated at 800,000. By one assessment, if authorities continued enforcing the laws in the manner they had been, it would take more than 130 years to remove all such structures—assuming that new ones were not built in their place.

This case raises questions about how to respond effectively to a complex problem that has arisen as a solution to other problems.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Moore, Gaylen, Chistopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess. 2020. “Making a Statement: Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Sanctuary City of Oakland, CA”. Read the full case study Abstract

Gaylen Moore, Christopher Robichaud, Jorrit de Jong, and Anna Burgess; May 2020 

In February 2018, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf learned through unofficial sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was planning to arrest a large number of undocumented immigrants in her City. Oakland had been a “sanctuary city” since 1986, and more than one in ten residents were undocumented. Mayor Schaaf believed that the ICE action was the Trump administration’s political retaliation against California’s sanctuary cities. She feared that law-abiding immigrants in her community—who she saw as scapegoats for a broken federal immigration system—would be swept up in the raid and subject to deportation. Faced with very little time and potentially significant legal implications, Mayor Schaaf had to decide whether and how to alert the community to a threat she took to be highly credible.

The case is designed to help mayors, city leaders, and other public executives think through adaptive leadership challenges with highly sensitive moral dimensions.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Fernando Monge, Jorrit de Jong, and Warren Dent; May 2020 

In the fall of 2016, the state government of the United Arab Emirates decided to take a new approach to spur floundering projects toward faster results.

Frustrated with slow progress on key issues like public health and traffic safety, the state launched a new program to accelerate change and enhance performance across government agencies. The innovative program, called Government Accelerators, ran 100-day challenges—intense periods of action where “acceleration” teams of frontline staff worked across agency boundaries to tackle pressing problems. This case illustrates how three teams were chosen to participate in the program, and how, in the 100-day timeframe, they worked toward clear and ambitious goals that would impact citizens’ lives.

The case aims to raise discussion about different types of public sector innovation, to explain the approach and methodology of the Government Accelerators, and to analyze the conditions under which a similar tool might work in other cities.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Jorrit de Jong and Eric Weinberger, May 2020 

Jennifer Musisi, a career civil servant most recently with the Uganda Revenue Authority, was appointed by President Museveni as executive director (equivalent to city manager) of a new governing body for Uganda’s capital, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Previously, power in Kampala had been held by an elected body, the Kampala City Council (KCC), dominated by opposition politicians and notorious for corruption, poor service delivery, and inadequate tax and revenue collections.

As head of the new KCCA, a quasi-corporate authority now under central government, Musisi’s job was to change all that, and quickly, by fighting corruption and modernizing (thereby increasing) tax and revenue collections. She had to decide which municipal fees or taxes would recoup the greatest revenues for maximum impact on her city-improvement agenda of better roads, clean streets and markets, modern drainage and lighting, and more.

Musisi also needed to find ways to remove longtime private tax agents who took, supposedly, a 10 percent commission from the City but in fact withheld most of their receipts, sometimes extorting additional, unofficial sums. Property tax—as it is throughout the world—was potentially Kampala’s most lucrative revenue source, but here Musisi’s effectiveness was limited without national legislative reform and government support. Thus, her most difficult challenges were transit and trading, on which thousands of poor people depended for their living while being vulnerable to private revenue collectors, middlemen, local bosses, and law enforcement.

The case describes an extremely difficult, often dangerous situation in a fast-growing African capital, and an individual determined to make Kampala the model city she believed it could be. How did Musisi even begin? What was the best strategy for raising own-source revenue (OSR), and how did she navigate the politics—both ways, that is, with opposition city politicians who cultivate the poor, but also with President Museveni and his governing NRM (National Resistance Movement)? In recent history African capitals have depended on central government transfers for their budgets and that is still the case in Kampala. But with little expectation that she would get more support from central government, Musisi had to collect enormous sums for the improvements needed for Kampala’s infrastructure, health services, schools, and general business environment.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Throughout August 2010, flooding continued to spread across Pakistan, eventually overtaking large portions of the southern part of the country. With Case A providing background and recounting early response efforts, Case B explores how the crisis worsened and the response intensified throughout the second half of August, highlighting actions taken at the federal level, as well as by the United States and other foreign governments. It also explores efforts by the United Nations, on behalf of the international humanitarian community, to support flood relief.

Info/California: California – 1993 Innovations Winner

The growth of the kind of new interactive technologies promise to make it more convenient and less expensive for government, like private providers of consumer goods and services, to serve its customers – whether they seek a driver’s license or unemployment compensation. Incorporating such technologies implies change, however, and, as this case makes clear, requires decisions about when and how automated transactions should be the norm. The story of the Info/California decision focuses on competing visions of a new, interactive system which promises to allow Californians to obtain records, licenses and program information of all sorts. For its champion within state government, it makes most sense for a scarce number of interactive terminals to be placed in public areas – supermarkets, malls and the like. He must, however, face a demand by a state agency that a terminal be used to make up for laid-off employees in a place where the public has been accustomed to going for records and licenses. Developed for the Kennedy School’s Program on Strategic Computing, this case allows for discussion of the relationship between mission and technology.

One Church/One Child Minority Adoption Campaign: Illinois – 1986 Innovations Winner

In 1980, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services faced a crisis. Over 700 black children in cook County, including 69 infants, waited for adoption while the agency was unable to find black parents. A supplement to the case (856.0), this video exhibit brings to life the successful strategy of the One Church, One Child program, focusing on a presentation in a black church designed to encourage adoptions. In addition, the video includes retrospective comments from the program's administrators and vignettes of families who have adopted children as a result of the program. This case will challenge students to examine the assumptions that limit bureaucracies.

The case prompts students to consider what community recovery entails, especially vis-à-vis mental health issues and resiliency; the role of different institutions therein; and how to accommodate a range of public views on these topics. It also explores broader issues in local government, most notably coordination within and across agencies as well as between the public and private sectors.  

Monroe Maternity Center, Inc.: Monroe County, TN – 1991 Innovations Winner

The combination of East Tennessee poverty and a lack of obstetrical facilities in Monroe County lead a U.S. public health officer, Dr. Barbara Levin, to seek different ways to provide prenatal and delivery services to women of the county. This case tells the story of the slow but successful effort to use nurses and midwives to staff a free-standing ”maternity center” which ultimately led to the maternity center delivering fully a quarter of all the county’s babies. It examines the strategies which Levin employed to build local support, overcome opposition in the medical profession and build a customer base. In addition, it frames a strategic question of whether and how Levin should attempt to transplant her idea to a far different region of the state.

Single Room Occupancy Resident Hotel Program: San Diego, CA – 1988 Innovations Winner

When the destruction or conversion of single-room occupancy hotels, or SROs, in San Diego’s downtown seemed to lead to an increase in homelessness, a private real estate developer argued that he could build profitable new SROs if the city would waive or modify key safety and construction standards. In the ensuing debate over the first such SRO, the Baltic Inn, core public housing issues came to the fore: whether regulation was effective and equitable, whether deregulation would serve the poor, and what minimum quality of life society should demand for even the poorest housing consumers. For a different treatment of this issue, see Housing’s Bottom Rung: Single Room Occupancy Hotels in San Diego (C18-95-1293.0 and 1294.0). Housing’s Bottom Rung, the abridged version of Building the Baltic (C16-89-928.0), leaves the dilemma of how best to solve the city’s housing problems to students, rather than describing the route which San Diego actually pursued, as is done in the original case. It describes the decline in single room occupancy hotels for poor single people and early proposals for a preservation ordinance to halt their demolition. The use of the A case first in class, followed by the handout of B, is meant to prompt the realization that careful and imaginative policy analysis can lead in politically unanticipated directions.