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Sally Coleman Selden Lynchburg College Theory to Practice A Solution in Search of a Problem?


1) Please read and discuss the following article

2) Make sure you analyze the public administration issues present in the article, draw connections to your lecture notes. (750 words not including the APA references; in-text citation required)
Discrimination, AfF rmative Action, and the New Public Service 911 O ne of the deF ning challenges of the ongoing transition from government-centered to multisectored models of new governance in the 21st century is maintaining the values that one cherishes in a democracy. One value that has historically been pursued in the administrative state is attaining a workforce that “looks like America.” ±or some, this means having a public workforce that refl ects America’s diversity (passive representation), with less concern about whether that representation infl uences the substantive policy outputs of public agencies (active representation). To others, looking like America is important so that all groups — especially historically underrepresented or excluded groups — can actively promote and implement public policies that refl ect the needs, values, and aspirations of the groups they represent. Passive representation is viewed as a worthwhile aim of public policy because the public service has always been a vehicle of social mobility for groups that historically have been disadvantaged in the labor market, and it implies a symbolic commitment to equal access to power. ±urthermore, the bureaucracy is, and should be, more refl ective of the economic stature of most Americans than elected offi cials because of its role in the policy process. Moreover, in a global economy — and with a foreign policy premised on human rights and dignity — lacking a diverse workforce is embarrassing to the United States, undermines its credibility, and hurts its business success in dealing with other nations. Meanwhile, active representation is valued because the operations and policies of a demographically diverse agency will look very di² erent from what they would be if the agency’s workforce were homogeneous. To these ends, for over a half-century, the United States has pursued a more diverse workforce, F rst through an emphasis on equal opportunity and later through affi rmative action policies (see table 1 on the PAR Web site). ³ ese e² orts have come through an amalgam of federal and state legislation, executive orders, administrative rules, and judicial decisions. With the exception of the abortion issue, this morphing from equal employment opportunity to an affi rmative action (henceforth, AA) approach to representation has ignited the most heated and divisive controversies over social policy that this nation has endured in the 20th century. ³ e battle has been led by both passionate advocates and opponents ( Holzer and Neumark 2000a; Jones 2005; Sabbagh 2003 ). To some proponents, moving away from AA as the primary tool for bringing about both passive and active representation in the United States would violate the nation’s constitutional covenant with its citizens. It is misguided, they argue, to ignore the fact that stubborn remnants of race, ethnicity, and gender remain in the hiring, promotion, and retention decisions in the public, private, and nonproF t sectors of this nation. ³ us, relaxing AA pressures would only undermine the progress made over the past four decades in these areas. Moreover, given the movement from government-centered to multisectored models of governance that has taken place in recent years, some worry that private and nonproF t organizations may be less focused on promoting diversity in their workforces, thereby compromising the nation’s aspirations toward equal opportunity for all Americans. To opponents, however, AA is an equally divisive form of reverse discrimination that is not needed precisely because of the progress that has been made in the antidiscrimination area. ³ ey are joined by others who argue that AA, at least on the basis of race and ethnicity, makes little sense given the changing racial- ethnic composition of today’s (and likely tomorrow’s) population. To others, the continued migration of workers from around the world into the United States, coupled with the demographic projections of the U.S. labor force by race and ethnicity, suggest we will no longer be able to classify U.S. workers using the F ve traditional racial and ethnic groups. Others in this “beyond AA” camp argue that recruitment is not Sally Coleman Selden Lynchburg College A Solution in Search of a Problem? Discrimination, Affi rmative Action, and the New Public Service Sally Coleman Selden is an associate professor at Lynchburg College. Her current research focuses on strategic human resource management in state governments and the impact of collaboration on nonproF t organizational effectiveness. She has published articles in the American Journal of Political Science, Administration & Society, American Review of Public Administration, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Journal of Public Administration Education, Public ±Administration± Review, and Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. E-mail: ±±[email protected]± Theory to Practice
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912 Public Administration Review • November | December 2006 the problem (i.e., the recruitment “pipeline” is full); rather, the problem is the retention of diverse workers. Diversity management, therefore, is the key to grow- ing, nurturing, and empowering a heterogeneous workforce. Has AA’s time passed, either politically, substantively, or in impact? A complete review of the host of ques- tions that must be answered to inform such an inquiry would be impractical. Consequently, this article focuses on what prior research tells us about four important dimensions of this question that beg understanding before an informed answer can be given. First, what does prior research tell us about where the public stands on AA? Second, what does it tell us about where AA presently stands in terms of state legislatures, the courts, and civil society? T ird, as a guide to arguing the merits and demerits of AA in the future, what does prior research tell us about what AA has accomplished so far in light of its passive and active representation goals? Finally, in an era of new governance, does a movement from government- centered to multisectored workforces compromise the aims of AA if it is dismantled? Reviewing a robust and still growing body of research related to these questions, this article culls eight general lessons related to AA that practitioners and researchers should ponder as they work with or study the future of AA in the new governance era. Perhaps the most important lesson for society more broadly is that AA is not a solution that is chasing a problem from a bygone era. ±oday’s residual problems will likely require rede² nition and new solutions — a refocus that will a³ ect public, private, and nonpro² t organizations as the United States moves from a government- centered to a multisectored model of public service. Divided It Falls? Where do Americans stand politically on AA? Neither practitioners nor scholars will be surprised to learn that public opinion is highly divided on this issue. But the real questions are how consistent are these polls, whether citizens are more or less divided in light of the broader discussions they have heard in the media over the years, and whether opinion is ² xed or has shifted over time. Prior research indicates that the durability of AA rests on a precarious and declining base of public support in the United States, with racial gaps in perceptions that are real, enduring, and divisive. Lesson 1: Citizens remain confl icted about AA, support for AA varies slightly across time and polls, and the results vary across time and by race . As illustrated in greater detail and with graphs in the longer version of this article on the PAR Web site (see ² gures 1 – 3), polling results indicate that support for AA varies slightly across time and opinion polls ( Jones 2005 ). A comparison of public opinion polls administered by CBS News and the Gallup Organization demonstrate this fl uctuation. Compared to 2003 polling data, the results of a January 2006 CBS poll suggest that the American people are growing impatient with AA programs (CBS News 2006 ). T e level of support for continuing AA programs has decreased substantially over the past three years. In 2003, the polling organization found that 53 percent of people surveyed believed that AA programs should be continued (CBS News 2003 ). In 2006, however, only 36 percent of persons surveyed believed that AA should be continued, a decrease of 17 percentage points from 2003. In contrast, respondents to Gallup’s annual survey of minority rights and relations in 2005 were slightly more supportive of AA programs for racial minorities (50 percent) than opposed to such programs (42 percent). Moreover, between 2001 and 2005, the percentage of people opposed to AA programs actually decreased, albeit marginally, from 44 percent to 42 percent ( Jones 2005 ). Because the percentage of peo- ple who wanted to see a decrease in AA programs fell from 37 percent in 1995 to 26 percent in 2003, Jack Ludwig, director of research for Gallup Poll Social Audits, argued that the public was warming to AA (´Ludwig´2003´).´ What has been consistent over the years, however, is an enduring racial gap in perceptions of AA, with minorities supporting AA by a margin of at least 20 percentage points in ² ve annual CBS and Gallup surveys (see ² gures 2 and 3 in the PAR ´Web´version;´ CBS News 2006; Jones 2005; Ludwig 2003 ). For example, a 2003 Gallup Poll revealed that African Americans and Hispanics were signi² cantly more supportive of AA programs than non-Hispanic whites. In that survey, 70 percent of African American and 63 percent of Hispanic respondents favored AA, compared to 44 percent of white respondents. More in-depth exploration of this perceptual gap has led some to conclude that the di³ erences between African Americans’ and whites’ perceptions of AA programs “likely stem from the belief among a majority of whites (59 percent) that blacks in this country have equal job opportunities with whites, while only 23 percent of blacks agree. Roughly three in four blacks believe that they do not have equal job oppor- tunities in this country” ( Jones 2005, 2 ). Moreover, the percentage of African Americans who believed that the government should make every e³ ort to help blacks and other minorities increased from 59 percent to 67 percent between 1997 and 2003 (see ² gure 3 in the PAR Web version). T e trend for white respon- dents in the CBS and Gallop polls di³ ered slightly, however, with the percentage supporting federal ´government´e³ orts increasing from 34 percent in 1997 to 41 percent in 2001 but decreasing to 36 percent in 2003.
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