SAGE Journal Articles
Abstract: In Coercive Control, Evan Stark calls on battered women’s activists to reorient their understanding of abusive relationships. Rather than being primarily about physical violence, he maintains, domestic violence is better conceptualized as men’s attempts to destroy women’s autonomy and reinstate patriarchy in intimate relationships. His analysis suggests important changes to defending battered women in court, modifications to the kinds of support services the movement provides for battered women, and changes in the laws and law enforcement regarding battering. Stark also maintains that, to end coercive control, the battered women’s movement must renew its commitment not only to ensuring the safety of individual women but also to attaining the feminist goal of substantive freedom and equality for women in both public and private life. I contend that Stark’s reframing of woman abuse is useful for battered women’s advocates and may, in some cases but not in others, lead to more effective practices in battered women’s programs. At the same time, it is likely to complicate activists’ efforts to mobilize public opinion, resources, and public policy to address the problem of woman abuse.
Abstract: This article examines the way in which recent critiques of the concept of power, notably by Clegg and Lukes, can be taken into account in the study of organizations. It is argued that this can best be done if we utilize the concepts of values and interests as well as the concept of power. Doing so allows us to consider the way in which advantage is distributed in an organization, and the contexts in which power is and is not used. Six patterns of organizational action are identified, using the concepts of values and interests, and their consequences for the exercise of power are examined. In conclusion it is argued that an understanding of power must utilize elements of both bureaucratic and political models of organizations.
Abstract: Many contemporary reforms of the public sector advocate empowerment as a solution for many of the problems of governing. The difficulty arises when different groups--clients, lower-level officials, senior officials, and local communities--are all the subject of empowerment. Attempts to enhance the power of all these players in the policy process is argued to create the probability of political conflict, and this is demonstrated with a set of examples. Efforts at empowerment further may be the sources of substantial disillusionment and possible alienation when it becomes apparent that all groups cannot be empowered at once.
Abstract: Public management has been dominated by the quest for efficiency and has left us with fundamental ethical questions that remain unresolved. It is argued that Machiavellian thought may provide us with concepts and tools applicable to ruling societies confronted with uncertainties and change that are (1) in line with the most recent insights into institutional evolution and (2) appropriate to solve complex decision-making problems. The common good--a central concept of Machiavelli's thought--appears to be an invisible hand that lowers the transaction costs and acts as the keystone of complex public affairs thinking. This analysis is illustrated by a comparative case study of the two management projects of infrastructure crossing the Alps, the AlpTransit in Switzerland, and the Lyon Torino Link. It concludes with a proposal to upgrade the research program in public management that allows effectiveness (legitimacy of the ends) and effectiveness in its implementation.
Points for practitioners
The mainstream of public management theories and reform has been dominated by the quest of efficiency as a Holy Grail. I argue that these reforms didn't deliver with their promises and left us with fundamental ethical questions unresolved: doing things right do not answer to the question of doing the right things. The main reason is a profound misunderstanding of the very nature of the ongoing change process that makes any kind one size fits all recipes inappropriate. Such a sea change occurred in the Renaissance era and Machiavelli bequeathed us a comprehensive understanding of how to rule a public body in a changing and uncertain world. I explain Machiavelli's misunderstood legacy and apply his teaching to analyzing two huge management projects of public infrastructures. I conclude on what has to be upgrade in the research programmes in public management to confront with the challenges of our era that call for a back to basics of classical political philosophy.
Abstract: Machiavelli should be a central and canonical text for management education, even in the age of positive organizational literatures. We give it this role by considering the case of the virtuous leader. Our proposition is simple: virtuous leaders live and act, like anybody else, in the power circuits that are constitutive of reality. Therefore, they participate in power dynamics that sometimes make them face the need to decide in ways that do not correspond to normative positive precepts. Machiavelli shows that even virtuous leaders must do what needs to be done, while trying to preserve one’s values and move in the direction of noble, high purpose goals.