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When Principals Attack their Agents: Young Public Workers' Responses to Conservative Politics

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Abstract:

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 and its attendant fiscal crisis marked a change in the relationship between politicians and public employees as legislators considered their budgeting options. State budget deficits forced many state governments to cut spending and called attention to public employees as a possible source of government waste. Recent political rhetoric suggests that public employees contribute to state budget deficits through collective bargaining agreements that generate excessive benefits for these individuals. Simultaneously, the general public has expressed a desire for reductions in government spending and has identified the benefits packages of public employees as an area worthy of cuts. As a result, legislation has been proposed, and in some cases enacted, to reduce public employees’ wages, benefits and pensions, as well as to eliminate their collective bargaining rights—a significant departure from the union-negotiated contracts of the past. My research investigates the ramifications of a recurring type of principal-agent problem: what happens when political principals turn on or directly attack their bureaucratic agents? By exploiting variation across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oregon in principal-on-agent attacks, I examine differences between the everyday challenges of working in a political environment and working under “attack.” To study the effects of this new principal-agent problem, I combine qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with public employees with quantitative analysis of a self-designed public policy student survey. This research investigates whether there are negative social-psychological or organizational consequences to introducing outright political conflict into the civil service context.
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Association:
Name: Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.pacificsoc.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706600_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Benditt, Lauren. "When Principals Attack their Agents: Young Public Workers' Responses to Conservative Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon, Mar 27, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706600_index.html>

APA Citation:

Benditt, L. , 2014-03-27 "When Principals Attack their Agents: Young Public Workers' Responses to Conservative Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Marriott Downtown Waterfront, Portland, Oregon <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p706600_index.html

Publication Type: Research-in-progress presentation
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The Great Recession of 2008-2009 and its attendant fiscal crisis marked a change in the relationship between politicians and public employees as legislators considered their budgeting options. State budget deficits forced many state governments to cut spending and called attention to public employees as a possible source of government waste. Recent political rhetoric suggests that public employees contribute to state budget deficits through collective bargaining agreements that generate excessive benefits for these individuals. Simultaneously, the general public has expressed a desire for reductions in government spending and has identified the benefits packages of public employees as an area worthy of cuts. As a result, legislation has been proposed, and in some cases enacted, to reduce public employees’ wages, benefits and pensions, as well as to eliminate their collective bargaining rights—a significant departure from the union-negotiated contracts of the past. My research investigates the ramifications of a recurring type of principal-agent problem: what happens when political principals turn on or directly attack their bureaucratic agents? By exploiting variation across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oregon in principal-on-agent attacks, I examine differences between the everyday challenges of working in a political environment and working under “attack.” To study the effects of this new principal-agent problem, I combine qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with public employees with quantitative analysis of a self-designed public policy student survey. This research investigates whether there are negative social-psychological or organizational consequences to introducing outright political conflict into the civil service context.


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