Trends in Labor Force Participation in the United States

Source: Abraham Mosisa and Steven Hipple, Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 129 no. 10, October 2006

After a long-term increase, the overall labor force participation rate has declined in recent years. Although there was a sharp rise in participation among individuals aged 55 years and older, this increase did not offset declines in the participation rates of younger persons. Using labor force estimates from the Current Population Survey (CPS), this article analyzes historical trends in labor force participation, focusing primarily on recent trends. The analysis highlights changes in labor force participation among various demographic groups, discusses possible reasons for those changes, and explains how the changes affected the overall participation rate.

40,000 New Union Members in Michigan

Source: Christine Moroski, Solidarity, January-February 2007

But even the strongest of passions, Hunter has discovered, can’t overcome dismal economics. It’s impossible to provide the quality of care that children deserve, she said, when the state of Michigan pays her just $1.80 per hour per child – a payment that has not been raised in 10 years. That’s why she recently became a member of Child Care Providers Together Michigan (CCPTM), a joint effort of the UAW and AFSCME.
Hunter and her co-workers, who are spread out in communities across the state, scored a major victory in November when the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) certified a majority of them had voted for union representation. The new bargaining unit will include some 40,000 home-based child care providers.

Corporate Social Responsibility: A Fledgling Movement Faces a Crucial Test

Source: Robert A. Senser, Dissent, Winter 2007

In his best-selling book Capitalism and Freedom, first published in 1962, future Nobel Laureate and world-renowned economist Milton Friedman laid down this basic principle for corporate executives: their sole social responsibility is to maximize the income and wealth of stockholders. “Few trends,” he wrote, “could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. This is a fundamentally subversive doctrine.”

Union leaders, student activists, environmentalists, and advocates of various other types have long accepted that subversive doctrine. Of late, more and more top corporate officials, despite their own large stockholdings, have also done so. Though a tiny minority, they are pioneers in venturing outside the business path dedicated solely to maximizing the financial well-being of shareholders. Even in the business world, “the movement for corporate social responsibility has won the battle of ideas,” according to the Economist, the English-language media’s foremost defender of capitalism.

Roots of Insecurity: Why American Workers and Others Are Losing Out

Source: Horst Brand, Dissent, Winter 2007

In 2004 the International Labor Office (ILO) published a voluminous though mistitled report called “Economic Security for a Better World.” This is in face a treatise about the economic insecurity that has been affecting the world’s working people for the past several decades. It is also an argument criticizing the “liberalization context” of insecurity and the policies that have deliberately fostered it. Liberalization, says the ILO, is the objective of policies formulated by international financial institutions in concert with the U.S. treasury – policies that are based on the “Washington Consensus.”

The ILO defines liberalization in terms of certain “key policy commitments,” all of which affect the situation of the workers, though at times only indirectly. One of the crucial commitments is a reduction in the size and role of the public sector of given countries, which usually results in cutbacks in public employment and productive public assets and the elimination of much of the state’s regulatory capacity. Other key commitments include unobstructed capital mobility, regardless of the effects in the value of a country’s exchange rate and ability to finance domestic business (hence to sustain employment levels), and labor market “flexibility,” a euphemism for removing (or restricting) such labor market “distortions” as trade unions and minimum wage laws and, in brief, subjecting workers to the dictates of supply and demand.

Conclusion: Parallel Play, Not Collaboration: Missing Questions, Missing Connections

Source: Lisa Blomgren Bingham and Rosemary O’Leary, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

In their coda to this special issue of PAR, Lisa Blomgren Bingham and Rosemary O’Leary employ an intriguing scholarly lens to analyze gaps in current collaborative management research based on the findings of scholarly papers in this symposium. While pointing out the tremendous intellectual progress that is apparent in these investigations of this seminal topic, the authors conclude that there is a missing synthesis between work on collaborative public management, civic engagement, and public participation and work on negotiation, conflict resolution, dispute system design, and consensus building. The authors challenge the field to end the practice of intellectual “parallel play.”

Letters From the Field: Case Studies of Exemplary Collaborative Managers

Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

These mini-case studies explore the practice of collaborative management within a variety of public sector settings, focusing on the meritorious roles played by public managers – how they performed well and why their actions mattered.

Articles include:
– Amy K. Donahue, “The Space Shuttle Columbia Recovery Operation: How Collaboration Enabled Disaster Response.”
– Mary Belefski, “Collaboration at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: An Interview with Two Senior Managers.”
– Kurt Thurmaier, “High-Intensity Interlocal Collaboration in Three Iowa Cities
– Heather Getha-Taylor, “Preparing Leaders for High-Stakes Collaborative Action: Darrell Darnell and the Department of Homeland Security.”
– Kim Eagle and Philip Cowherd, “Collaborative Capital Planning in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.”
– Tracy Yandle, “The Challenger Scallop Enhancement Company: Collaborative Management of a Natural Resource Based in the Private Sector.”
– Sharon Friedrichsen, “Collaborative Public Management in San Francisco.”
– Gerald Andrews Emison, “The EPA Bureaucrat Who Could.”
– David W. Sears and W. Robert Lovan. “Encouraging Collaboration in Rural America.”
– Brenda Bushouse, “West Virginia Collaboration for Creating Universal Prekindergarten.”
– Rob Alexander, “Kirk Emerson and the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.”

Collaboration and Leadership for Effective Emergency Management

Source: William L. Waugh Jr. and Gregory Streib, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

Collaboration is a necessary foundation for dealing with both natural and technological hazards and disasters and the consequences of terrorism. This analysis describes the structure of the American emergency management system, the charts development of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and identifies conflicts arising from the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the attempt to impose a command and control system on a very collaborative organizational culture in a very collaborative sociopolitical and legal context. The importance of collaboration is stressed, and recommendations are offered on how to improve the amount and value of collaborative activities. New leadership strategies are recommended that derive their power from effective strategies and the transformational power of a compelling vision, rather than from hierarchy, rank, or standard operating procedures.

Incrementalism before the Storm: Network Performance for the Evacuation of New Orleans

Source: John J. Kiefer and Robert S. Montjoy, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

In this timely look at evacuation before, during and after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans, the authors trace the actions and interactions of the key players and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of their performance during the crisis. Though it was apparent that informal collaborative networks were necessary to deal with the disaster, this article suggests that they are never sufficient alone because networks, by definition, lack legal authority and diffuse public responsibility.

Hurricane Katrina revealed a lack of preparedness in disaster management networks covering the New Orleans area. This paper focuses on the operation of networks in preparing to evacuate residents in advance of a major disaster. There are two cases: the relatively successful evacuation of residents who left by private conveyance and the widely publicized failure to provide for those who could not or would not leave on their own. We trace the actions and inactions of various players to reach conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of networks in the special circumstances of disaster preparation.

What Do We Know and Need to Know About the Environmental Outcomes of Collaborative Management?

Source: Tomas M. Koontz and Craig W. Thomas, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

To what extent does collaborative management lead to improved environmental outcomes? Despite the academic excitement over collaborative management, the authors of this provocative article argue that the empirical evidence on existing practices does not match the desired outcome of a better environment. Although we know a great deal about the why, how, and what of collaborative management, it is no panacea. Rather, students of this subject should remain hard-headed realists and focus on whether actual environmental improvement results. Does real-world application of collaborative management processes achieve more or less than alternative managerial methods such as traditional top-down, command and control, or newer market-driven techniques?

Collaborative Public Management and Democracy: Evidence from Western Watershed Partnerships

Source: William D. Leach, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

Based on a random sample of empirical studies of 76 watershed partnerships in California and Washington, the author assesses the democratic merits of collaborative public management according to seven norms: inclusiveness, representativeness, impartiality, transparency, deliberativeness, lawfulness, and empowerment. The article stresses the pluses and minuses of each norm according to the actual practices discovered from an analysis of the working partnerships. Several insights and revealing patterns of collaborative relationships are drawn from this evidence.