Category Archives: Journal Article

Pay For Success And Population Health: Early Results From Eleven Projects Reveal Challenges And Promise

Source: Paula M. Lantz, Sara Rosenbaum, Leighton Ku and Samantha Iovan, Health Affairs, November 2016

Pay for success (PFS) is a type of social impact investing that uses private capital to finance proven prevention programs that help a government reduce public expenditures or achieve greater value. We conducted an analysis of the first eleven PFS projects in the United States to investigate the potential of PFS as a strategy for financing and disseminating interventions aimed at improving population health and health equity. The PFS approach has significant potential for bringing private-sector resources to interventions regarding social determinants of health. Nonetheless, a number of challenges remain, including structuring PFS initiatives so that optimal prevention benefits can be achieved and ensuring that PFS interventions and evaluation designs are based on rigorous research principles. In addition, increased policy attention regarding key PFS payout issues is needed, including the “wrong pockets” problem and legal barriers to using federal Medicaid funds as an investor payout source.

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Gender, Markets, and Inequality: A Framework

Source: Huriya Jabbar, Wei-Ling Sun, Melinda A. Lemke, & Emily Germain, Educational Policy, October 19, 2016

A growing body of research examines the role of elite networks, power, and race in the advocacy for market-based reforms and their ultimate effects on students, teachers, and communities of color. Yet, less research explores how such reforms interact with gender in the workplace, especially how policies such as school choice, competition, and incentive-based pay impact female actors within K-12 schools (e.g., teachers, school leaders). The current research on marketization and privatization in education has largely overlooked the potential impact on women in schools. We review the literature on women in K-12 education and in the economy more generally, and organize it conceptually to identify areas for future inquiry. After synthesizing and summarizing themes across diverse bodies of literature, we contend that as schools privatize, we may see greater gender disparities in education leadership and teaching.

Implementing Public–Private Partnerships How Management Responses to Events Produce (Un)Satisfactory Outcomes

Source: Stefan Verweij, Geert R. Teisman, & Lasse M. Gerrits, Public Works Management & Policy, October 23, 2016

Most research on Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure development focuses on phases prior to construction. The implementation phase itself has received less attention. However, sound public–private agreements and project preparations can fail during project implementation because of, for example, unforeseen events and ineffective responses to them. We conducted case studies on two infrastructure projects to examine which management responses to events during implementation produce (un)satisfactory outcomes. We found that externally oriented responses or a cooperative stance between the public and private partners produce satisfactory outcomes in responding to events. In practice, however, management responses are often internally oriented and non-cooperative, resulting in unsatisfactory outcomes. We identified three explanations for this, related to time pressure in implementation, the organization of the involvement of external stakeholders, and project culture in the PPP. The article concludes with implications for management and policy of infrastructure PPPs.

Charter Schools Do Little To Combat Racial Segregation, Says National Study

Source: Leah Binkovitz, The Rivard Report, October 12, 2016

Charter schools have been around for 25 years, following a 1991 Minnesota law that paved the way for eight such schools there. Today, charter schools enroll a small percentage of public school students across the country, but they continue to inspire heated debate about equity and education reform. Now, a new national study of enrollment, poverty, and testing data concludes that charter schools have little impact on the widespread racial segregation found in traditional public schools. … The findings rely on nationwide data from the 2010-2011 school year for fourth and tenth graders in districts with at least one charter school. The study comes at a time of heated debate about the role of charter schools. A 2010 report from the Civil Rights Project out of the University of California, Los Angeles, concluded that “the charter school movement has been a major political success, but it has been a civil rights failure.” The report continues, saying, “though there are some remarkable and diverse charter schools, most are neither.” …

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For-profit trade schools offer more debt, fewer jobs

Source: Jill Rosen, Futurity, September 16, 2016

Students from disadvantaged neighborhoods are often drawn to for-profit trade schools after high school, seeing them as the quickest route to jobs. A new study finds the streamlined, focused curriculum that makes for-profit schools appealing is also the reason many poor students drop out, however. A new study of 150 black youths from some of Baltimore’s lowest-income neighborhoods shows that young people who attended for-profit institutions ended up in more debt and with fewer job prospects than they might have had they attempted two- or four-year nonprofit schools. The findings, which shed new light on what attracts students to for-profit institutions and why they struggle to complete certifications, appear in the journal Sociology of Education. …

… Most of the young people in the study, 53 percent, pursued certifications at for-profit trade schools that offer occupational training programs in fields like cosmetology, auto mechanics, computer networking, and phlebotomy. Most students who enroll in these programs are very low-income, and studies show the number of disadvantaged students choosing for-profit programs is increasing. … These young people had very grounded career expectations; most hoped to find working-class jobs, the research shows. And because of their family and financial circumstances, they wanted jobs as soon as possible. … Although most of the for-profit trade programs lasted less than two years, they were expensive. Unlike nonprofit schools, they didn’t allow undecided students to switch courses of study once a program was paid for upfront. Once enrolled, the young people tended to realize they’d committed to occupations they either weren’t qualified for or didn’t enjoy. They dropped out, or hopped from one program to another, or tried taking several programs at a time, racking up debt and increasing chances they would quit it all before earning certification. Of the young people who enrolled in a for-profit college, only 31 percent earned certification by the time the study ended. …


“Why Wait Years to Become Something?” Low-income African American Youth and the Costly Career Search in For-profit Trade Schools
Source: Megan M. Holland1 & Stefanie DeLuca, Sociology of Education, September 15, 2016

Increasing numbers of low-income and minority youth are now pursuing shorter-duration sub-baccalaureate credentials at for-profit trade and technical schools. However, many students drop out of these schools, leaving with large debts and few job prospects. Despite these dismal outcomes, we know very little about students’ experiences in for-profit programs and how these institutions shape postsecondary attainment. Using data from fieldwork with 150 inner-city African American youth, we examine why disadvantaged youth are attracted to these schools and why they struggle to complete certifications. In contrast to previous research, we find that the youth in our study have quite modest ambitions and look to for-profit trade schools as the quickest and most direct route to work. However, youth receive little information or guidance to support such postsecondary transitions. Therefore, the very element that makes for-profit trade school programs seem the most appealing—a curriculum focused on one particular career—becomes an obstacle when it requires youth to commit to a program of study before they have explored their interests. When youth realize they do not like or are not prepared for their chosen career, they adopt coping strategies that keep them in school but swirling between programs, rather than accumulating any credentials.

Charter Schools and Labor Market Outcomes

Source: Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer Jr., NBER Working Paper No. w22502, August 2016

We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings. In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of what might explain our set of facts.

Developing government expertise in strategic contracting for public–private partnerships

Source: Eric J Boyer & Kathryn E Newcomer, Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiations, 2015, Vol. 1(2) 129–148

While there is general consensus that a lack of internal skills and abilities threatens contracting performance, there is relatively little research on the processes and practices by which government develops knowledge in contract design and implementation. Drawing from primary data collected from two state government agencies in the USA, this research identifies the ways public managers use lessons from their own organization and from the wider organizational environment to improve their approach to contracting for public–private partnerships (PPPs). A four-part framework of organizational learning is presented to guide public sector capacity development for PPPs. The results suggest that public and private interests conflict not only in contract design and implementation, but also in the battle for ideas that inform government decision-making. The results also suggest that a number of internal management reforms are needed to foster a climate amenable to organizational learning on PPPs.

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Walking the line on police privatization: efficiency, accountability, and court decisions

Source: Pace William Rawlins & Sung-Wook Kwon, International Review of Administration Sciences, September 2016


This research reviews key issues in the privatization of local police services by discussing economic and political pressures for police privatization and concerns regarding the quality and accountability of privatized police. In particular, the authors explore whether the cost-efficiency sought from police privatization outweighs a critical side effect of a growing confusion regarding police oversight and significant uncertainties in accountability. They analyze court decisions in the US dealing with the question of whether constitutional protections extend to private police conduct. Relevant court decisions suggest that the confusion may grow even worse and local policy makers may need to pay more attention if they decide to privatize police services.

Points for practitioners While police privatization occurs at all levels of government, this research focuses narrowly on the municipal level because there are significantly more local police agencies than at any other level of government. This study first clarifies the motives behind police privatization and then brings to light the side effects that may occur, especially accountability issues. This will act as a guide for local policy makers because accountability and cost-efficiency are major concerns when considering police privatization. Local officials can more comprehensively consider the demand for privatization of local police services and potential legal issues caused by the privatization effort.

The Relationship of Nonprofits’ Financial Health to Program Outcomes Empirical Evidence From Nonprofit Arts Organizations

Source: Mirae Kim, NonProfit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, August 11, 2016

Financial measures are routinely used as a proxy for nonprofit organizations’ capacity to serve, but the link between financial indicators and program outcomes has been largely unexamined. This study examines empirically whether, and to what extent, financial measures predict program success. The analysis draws on a unique data set from the Cultural Data Project (2004-2012) that covers nearly 5,000 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. The empirical results confirm that financial attributes are indeed linked to program outcomes. Yet, some of the factors that contribute to financial stability and efficiency have no or negative relationships with program outcomes; this finding suggests that some efforts to maintain financial strength may be made at the expense of program performance. This study also draws attention to the inconsistent way revenue diversification is being measured and calls attention to the value in focusing on the primary funding mechanism of a nonprofit organization.

Lessons Learned from Public and Private Contract Managers for Effective Local Government Contracting Out: The Case of New Jersey

Source: Soojin Kim, International Journal of Public Administration, Latest Articles, Published online: July 29, 2016
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From the abstract:
To date, very few studies have explored practical strategies for exercising effective financial management of local government contracts through two main stakeholders’ perspectives of the contracting system at the same time. Employing a series of semi-structured interviews with public officials and private contractors in New Jersey, this study attempts to fill this gap in the scholarship. The finding of this study suggests that government agencies should pay greater attention to competitive bids without favoritism, contract specificity, a statewide performance database, sufficient staffing with well-trained personnel, strong leadership, team-based structures, two-way communication, and evaluation based on both qualitative and quantitative values.