Overcoming equivocality on projects in the fuzzy front end: Bringing social networks back in

The management of the fuzzy front end (FFE) phase of innovation is crucial to the ultimate success of new product and process initiatives. A critical challenge that teams face at this stage is dealing with equivocality – the extent to which project participants grapple with multiple, and plausibly conflicting, meanings and interpretations of the information available to them (Daft and Lengel, 1986; Weick, 1979). While initially, a certain level of equivocality is beneficial for enhancing team creativity and preventing early closure, at some point it must be resolved in order for an idea to become a viable New Product Development (NPD) project. This study employs a social networks perspective to understand how different types of informal work-based relations and their structural properties affect equivocality on project teams in the FFE. In particular, it examines the structural effects of two types of social relations and their associated networks – technical-advice and friendship ties. The findings suggest that while high density in a projects technical-advice network is likely to reduce equivocality, high density in a projects friendship network is likely to increase it. More interestingly, having multiple members on projects who are highly central in the lab technical-advice network tends to increase equivocality unless it is balanced with members who occupy positions of high centrality in the lab friendship network. In addition to contributing to the scholarship on NPD, FFE, and social networks, the results offer managerial insights for deploying social networks in order to assemble NPD teams and structure the flows of communication on projects so as to resolve equivocality in the FFE.

The Career Advancement of Military Veterans in Recent Cohorts of the U.S. Executive Branch

To measure the effect of veterans’ preference on U.S. federal workforce quality, researchers have assessed whether military veterans advance in their federal careers at a different rate than nonveterans. This research, however, has produced mixed results. In research concerning recent employee cohorts, nonveterans outpace veterans’ advancement, implying that veterans’ preference lessens employee quality. In older cohorts, veterans and nonveterans advance comparably. The latter research, however, controls for employees’ entry positions, whereas research concerning recent cohorts does not do so, thus inhibiting direct comparison of results. To facilitate such comparisons, we controlled for veterans’ and nonveterans’ entry positions in a study of career advancement among all white-collar, U.S. executive branch workers entering employment from 1992 to 2013. In these recent cohorts, we find roughly equivalent rates of career advancement among veterans and nonveterans when controlling for entry positions. This finding holds when using grade or pay increases as measures of advancement.

On Generalizing Ordered Cumulative Regression Models

We examine models that relax proportionality in cumulative ordered regression models. Something fundamental arising from ordered variables and stochastic ordering implies a partitioning. Efforts to relax proportionality also relax the ability to collapse an inherently multidimensional problem to a partitioning of the (unidimensional) real line. It is surprising and unfortunate to find that deviations from proportionality are sufficient to generate internal contradictions; undecidable propositions must exist by relaxing proportional odds without other relevant and significant changes in the underlying model. We prove a single theorem linking continuous support and partitions of a latent space to show that for these two characteristics to be simultaneously satisfied, the model must be the proportional-odds model. Conditioning on the adjacency that is closely related to the partitioning is fruitful, but at this point we join the class of continuation-ratio models. Alternatively, Anderson’s (1984) stereotype model is quite general and nests ordered and unordered choice models, but again we have left the domain of cumulative models. Adopting multidimensional cumulative models or imposing covariate-specific thresholds are the only certain methods for avoiding these troubles in the cumulative framework. It is generically impossible to generalize the cumulative class of ordered regression models in ways consistent with the spirit of generalized cumulative regression models. Monte Carlo studies also demonstrate the general principles.

Property Tax Fairness in Multnomah County, Oregon

This article evaluates two alternative standards for resetting property assessments on title transfer in property tax systems like Oregon’s and California’s that are explicitly designed to protect property owners against rapid, unanticipated increases in their tax bills, California’s reset to market and one in which the property is given a new assessed value based on its market value multiplied by a ratio that reflects the average relationship between assessed value and market value within a jurisdiction. People find that the latter promotes assessment quality better than the former and probably mitigates lock-in.

The State, Property Rights, and the Middle Class: Empirical Support for an Aristotelian Observation

We consider the role of variation in respect for property rights, economic freedom, and political freedoms in explaning political stability. As part of a broader investigation into the role of the middle class in economic development, this paper highlights some nonlinearities in these relations.

A Tale of Two Cities: Learning from Oregon's Property Tax Administration

In this article, the authors describe the evolution of Oregon’s one-off property tax system, which emphasizes stable growth in tax assessments and payments and interjurisdictional uniformity in tax rates.They also compare two sections of Portland — the affluent neighborhoods on the west side of the Willamette River and the poorer ones on the east side — to determine how assessment quality and interjurisdictional tax burdens deteriorate without periodic reassessment.

The intergovernmental context of alternative service delivery choices

Research suggests that outsourcing is one way that local governments have to meet rising expectations and unwillingness to pay when resources are constrained. The degree to which resources are constrained is a function not only of local economic and political conditions, but of state rules as well. We build on previous models of local government outsourcing by studying the interaction between state rules and local fiscal, economic, and political conditions. We find that cities in states that place limits on the resources available to local governments choose differently from among the constellation of service provision options than cities in states without such limits.

Management Practices and State Bond Ratings

One of the central claims of public administration is that management matters for the performance of public entities. Quantifying the impact of organizational management is thus central to the empirical evaluation of this claim. Utilizing novel features of the Government Performance Project (GPP), we assess the impact of state‐level management practices on the credit quality of US states. The central challenge—that both the GPP data and bond ratings take the form of ordinal grades—suggests a common solution utilizing multiple indicators of a latent construct (management capacity and credit quality) with appropriate measurement models. After describing the characteristics of the measurement approach, we derive management capacity scores from the GPP data and credit quality scores using bond ratings from the three rating agencies. These derived scores then allow us to test linkages between credit quality of the US states and broad aspects of their relative management capacity. On the whole, we show that financial management capacity influences credit quality, while the evidence is less clear that other forms of management capacity matter.


The role of the middle class in the evolution of societies, their economies and their politics is one of the oldest topics in political economy. In this paper we suggest a new conceptual framework for the study of the middle class in an effort to lay the foundations for a rigorous research program that would allow the assessment and study of what the middle class is, how we may want to measure its strength or lack thereof and how we may assess its impact on its social-political and economic environments. First, we need to define, in much clearer and more precise terms, what the middle class may be. What does it mean to be a member in this exclusive club? Then, we have to establish what are the variables that explain the size and strength of the middle class. Only then can we go on to explore the effect that the size and strength of the middle class may have on the economic, social and political strength for developed, developing, and transition societies. In this exploratory paper we give some preliminary intuition of what an adequate definition may include, some initial results that highlight what such a research program may achieve and a short discussion of how this work is directly relevant to the political economy of transition societies like Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia in the Caucasus.

The Cost of Boosterism: Economic Development, Growth Management, and Municipal Bond Ratings

The battles playing out in local governments across America over development and growth management have important long-term implications that are often difficult to measure because of the long lag between policy decisions and the consequences of those decisions. This study suggests one way of investigating the long-term effects of policy decisions in the area of growth management. The consequences of development and growth management policies should be of great interest to those who invest in the debt issued by a community because it is the value of property that provides the underlying guarantee of that debt. One might assume that aggressive development is good for investors because a larger tax base increases the size of the underlying asset guaranteeing the debt, but borrowing from the dominant model in the investment literature on asset pricing, this article suggests that investors are significantly concerned with the future variability in the value of an investment. Future change, therefore—or at least the possibility of change—represents a risk for investors, a risk that is manifested in lower bond ratings and ultimately in higher interest costs on a jurisdiction’s debt. Support for this notion is illustrated in a test on a sample of cities in Massachusetts.

Unpacking civic participation: Analyzing trends in black [and white] participation over time

Differences in levels of political engagement between blacks and whites have long captured scholars’ interest. As a consequence, this topic has been heavily studied in American politics. However, many of these studies have taken a static approach to analyzing political behavior and few have examined how individuals orient themselves to political participation over time. Yet, engagement in political behavior as well as the information that can be obtained from any specific political action will change within a mutable political environment. In our examination of patterns in blacks’ and whites’ political engagement between 1973 and 1994, we investigate the ability of various civic activities to differentiate between high and low propensity participators. This dynamic analysis, with the incorporation of a unique methodological approach, reveals a gradual increase in blacks’ likelihood to engage in politics. Moreover, the increase in blacks’ engagement has served to diminish racial disparities in political behavior over time.

Now You See It, Now You Don't: The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Split Bond Rating in States

Bond ratings on state-issued debt provide a signal to credit markets that help them charge an appropriate interest rate, based on the risk of payment default. Though actual default may occur only in extreme circumstances, observed differences in ratings and interest costs across states and time demonstrate that a sound economy, strong financials, and stable policies matter. When data on the factors that presumably affect ratings is public and easily accessible, making sense of differences of opinion between bond rating agencies is difficult. We suggest that such differences—observed as so-called split bond ratings—are often ephemeral. Utilizing a simulation method to uncover the latent credit risk presented by each state, we show that split ratings on state bonds are often due to the fact that presumed category overlap between rating agencies is absent when evaluated on a common latent scale. Most observed state bond rating splits from 1997 through 2006 can be explained by this category mismatch. Our approach has broad implications for pricing state debt, as well as pricing rated debt in other capital market sectors.

Statistical Backwards Induction

We present a simple method for estimating regressions based on recursive extensive-form games. Our procedure, which can be implemented in most standard statistical packages, involves sequentially estimating standard logits (or probits) in a manner analogous to backwards induction. We demonstrate that the technique produces consistent parameter estimates and show how to calculate consistent standard errors. To illustrate the method, we replicate Leblang’s (2003) study of speculative attacks by financial markets and government responses to these attacks.

Divided government, political turnover, and state bond ratings

Credit markets face an inherent risk that derives from future policy changes when considering the purchase of debt issued by state governments. An enacting government coalition issuing long-term debt cannot make a credible commitment to maintain the existing debt repayment policy into the future. In the face of this commitment problem, investors (and the rating agencies that serve those investors) look to recent political turnover and the existence of divided government to estimate the possibility that some future government coalition will remain substantially similar to the enacting coalition. Political turnover and divided government suggest to the credit markets that future coalitions may act opportunistically regarding debt repayment. This risk of opportunistic behavior, we argue, manifests in lower ratings of state debt. We empirically examine this claim in a model of state bond ratings from 1995 through 2000.

You must remember this: Dealing with long memory in political analyses

Recent research by Box-Steffensmeier and Smith (Box-Steffensmeier, J.M., Smith, R.M., 1996. The dynamics of aggregate partisanship. American Political Science Review 90, 567–580; Box-Steffensmeier, J.M., Smith, R.M., 1998. Investigating political dynamics using fractional integration methods. American Journal of Political Science 42, 661–689) has alerted scholars to the problems involved in the analysis of fractionally integrated time series. This paper pursues this line of inquiry by compiling evidence on the time series properties of a number of common variables used in political research, including macropartisanship, presidential approval, the monthly and quarterly index of consumer sentiment, percentage liberalism in Supreme Court decision making, and others. In applying a variety of formal tests to these series, we fail to reject hypotheses of random walk or fractionally integrated processes while commonly rejecting hypotheses of stationary behavior. Evidence obtained from point estimates of the fractional differencing parameter, d, supports these findings while providing a glimpse into the long-memory characteristics of many political time series. Finally, Monte Carlo studies are performed that demonstrate the likelihood of spurious regressions when researchers fail to account for the fractional dynamics of time series.