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Democracy and Administration

, 296 pages

1 halftone

April 2009



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Democracy and Administration

Woodrow Wilson's Ideas and the Challenges of Public Management

Though his term in the White House ended nearly a century ago, Woodrow Wilson anticipated the need for new ideas to address the effects of modern economic and social forces on the United States, including increased involvement in international affairs. Democracy and Administration synthesizes the former world leader's thought on government administration, laying out Wilson's concepts of how best to manage government bureaucracies and balance policy leadership with popular rule. Linking the full gamut of Wilson’s ideas and actions covering nearly four decades, Brian J. Cook finds success, folly, and fresh thinking with relevance in the twenty-first century.

Building on his interpretive synthesis, Cook links Wilson’s tenets to current efforts to improve public management, showing how some of his most prominent ideas and initiatives presaged major developments in theory and practice. Democracy and Administration calls on scholars and practitioners to take Wilson’s institutional design and regime-level orientation into account as part of the ambitious enterprise to develop a new science of democratic governance.

Brian J. Cook is a professor of government and director of the Master of Public Administration Program at Clark University. He is the author of Bureaucratic Politics and Regulatory Reform: The EPA and Emission Trading and Bureaucracy and Self-Government: Reconsidering the Role of Public Administration in American Politics, also published by Johns Hopkins.

"Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through practitioners."

"A very sophisticated piece of work. Cook provides a fresh look at Wilson's ideas and reinforces the notion that the history of ideas does matter. He demonstrates a deep understanding of Wilson's ideas and is adept at applying such ideas to public management theory. An original and substantial contribution to the fields of public management, public administration, and public policy."

"Woodrow Wilson brought well-considered theories about political leadership in American government to the presidency. He was an unusual president in this respect. Brian Cook has written an incisive analysis of Wilson's theories and practice in a way that not only tells us much about Wilson but also illuminates perennial issues of presidential leadership."

"Here, Cook demonstrates Wilson's significance to the most current issues in the theory and practice of public administration, and recently developing topics such as 'new public management' and 'governance.' He contends that, while some authors have described recent developments as reactions against Wilson's outdated ideas, Wilson actually posed more fundamental questions that these authors need more carefully to address. A genuinely significant contribution and important reading for all scholars in public administration and related fields and for thoughtful practitioners."

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