The Politics of Public Management: Exploring the Importance of Environmental Support
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The machinations of the political environments of public organizations present interesting questions for scholars and practitioners alike. Moving beyond simply recognition of the inherent role of politics in the administrative process, I uncover specific causal mechanisms from the external environment to assess their influence on public administration. To investigate this phenomenon, I utilize data from the public education sector, one of the most common areas of public service delivery. This dissertation utilizes data from over 1000 Texas school districts. Given the heterogeneous nature of the state, these data are applicable to similarly structured organizations while the theories tested are tractable to other types of public policy. Unique to this project is the conceptualization of the role race plays for public organizations. Literature abounds with respect to how race affects clientele-agency relationships, but fails to address the effects of race and ethnicity at the upper echelons of public management. This research endeavor approximates reality in a meaningful way as our nation – and therefore our public organizations – becomes increasingly diverse in nature. The findings suggest that support, and more generally, the politics of the environment, matter for organizational performance. In some instances, such as turbulence in the environment, the role support plays in public service delivery varies. It is also the case that the presence of a racial or ethnic minority at the top levels of public organizations has a detrimental effect and mitigates an otherwise strong, positive association between supportive attitudes in the political environment and agency outcomes.
Melton, Erin Kelly (2011). The Politics of Public Management: Exploring the Importance of Environmental Support. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from