New data from ICPSR

36760 Annual Survey of Jails, 2015 http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36760.v1

36800 Research on Pathways to Desistance [Maricopa County, AZ and Philadelphia County, PA]: Subject Measures – Scales, 2000-2010 http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36800.v1

36825 Child Care and Development Fund Administrative Data, Federal Fiscal Year 2014 http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36825.v1

36842 Health Reform Monitoring Survey, Third Quarter 2016 http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36842.v1

Policy Design and Practice

I’ve joined the Scientific Board of Policy Design and Practice, a new journal from Taylor & Francis that will begin publication in 2018. The journal is sponsored by the Asian Development Bank and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore. Michael Howlett and M Ramesh will co-edit the journal. I’ll post more information along the way about the journal.

Optimal co-authoring?

I was recently reminded of a study by sociologist Brian Uzzi about the success factors behind Broadway musicals. One factor behind failure was when the production lacked new insights because the entire team had worked together on repeated projects. Another factor who was when none of the team’s members had worked together before. 

I wonder if this says something about optimal co-authoring. Maybe the best co-authoring opportunities are those that include new team members, but that also include team members from past projects. The upshot of this is maybe you need new blood and old blood for a project to truly succeed.

The corollary to this is that most new co-authoring opportunities will fail – or maybe that they won’t feel, at least at the beginning, like successes.

2017 IPSA Levine Prize for the best book in comparative administration and public policy

Above Politics: Bureaucratic Discretion and Credible Commitment, written with Gary J. Miller of Washington University in St. Louis, will receive the 2017 Levine Prize for the best book in comparative administration and public policy. This is an annual award made by the Research Committee 27 of the International Political Science Association. Gary and I published this book in 2016 in the Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions series of Cambridge University Press.

Messiness is generative

I’m going to write for a bit on innovation and design and research and a few other topics. It fits with some work I’m doing on innovation in complex learning organizations, but I won’t focus on the specifics much at all in these entries. These are just sketches of some ideas I’m enjoying reading about.

For instance, I’ve been reading about ethnographic studies of graphic designers. One item that struck a note is the idea that they work in teams, and the social nature of the design practice is a big part of what makes for success. The groups brief each other in open studios where people can hear and see conversations, often carried out in open conflict. The detritus of design is left scattered about the room – drawing boards, sketches, all kinds of papers. Nothing is hidden – things carved in foam are jumbled together on desks along with forgotten prototypes.

The point is that messiness is generative. Seeing a forgotten prototype for an early stage in a project may remind a designer of an important tradeoff made at that point; maybe it even helps get around a newly-discovered juncture.

What if research was carried out in the same environment? If we left our solo offices to sit in bullpens surrounded by other researchers and grad students? If we published (if only electronically, as a working paper on a server like the arXiv) every failed analysis? Every conjecture or hypothesis we considered worth extended consideration?

Certainly it would be messy. It would open us up to enhanced criticism. But it would also be generative.