Cohen, Vaughn, and Villalobos (2010), using the formal theory specified in Chapter 2, examine the management practices of the chief of staff in the US Office of the President. Their dependent variable is how effective the chief of staff is as rated by a survey of experts in the administration. Although they present two variables – the chief of staff’s experience and the chief of staff’s working relationship with the president – as stability measures, both are very similar to the quality measures in the Columbian mayors study. Both measures of experience/quality are positively related to the perceived effectiveness of the chief of staff. Conclusions The analyses in this chapter offer three principal contributions. First, we develop and apply an uncommon measure of public management quality, thus fleshing out an aspect of managerial influence that is implicit in our model but that was not tapped directly with our examination of managerial networking. The application of the quality measure relies on avoiding an underspecified model for explaining salary variations, as well as on the notion that the mobility, information, and compensation for managers in the empirical setting approximate the labor market assumptions of neoclas- sical economics. We have argued that both conditions hold here. To the extent that these conditions do not hold, in fact, we would expect null 125 Conclusions
results. This chapter, therefore, offers an innovative, albeit indirect, overall measure of public management quality. The most important limitation here has to do with the specialized nature of the measure, or, at least, its restricted applicability. Most settings of interest do not approximate the required conditions, although investigations of some other situations – certain add- itional educational systems (see Johansen 2008), some public authorities, or quasigovernmental entities, for instance – might be able to use and perhaps improve on the approach taken here. 18 Tapping public management quality in many other circumstances, however, will require tackling more directly some of the tough issues about what quality means, how it is related to leadership, and from what sources the requisite quality judgments can be derived. Second, this research offers the fullest rigorous test to date of the propos- ition that public management quality contributes positively to performance. The results are clear and convincing. If the assumption is made that the measure of quality is valid, then the almost completely consistent results across eleven measures of performance are firm evidence indeed. 19 That these results obtain despite any likely measurement error for management quality creating a bias toward null findings is particularly striking. With all the appropriate controls for the educational setting, the quality of superin- tendents’ management makes a difference. Whether the focus is on pass rates, dropout rates, or the performance of specialized groups of students, such as those from low-income families or those aiming to attend college, management matters considerably. This set of results is even more striking
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