Book Reviews Edited by Stephanie L. Witt : Patricia Wallace Ingraham, The Foundation of Merit : Public Service in American Democracy. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 170 pp
AbstractBook Reviews Edited by Stephanie L. WittPatricia Wallace Ingraham, The Foundation of Merit : Public Service in American Democracy. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 170 pp SAGE Publications, Inc.1997DOI: 10.1177/0734371X9701700207 One pernicious effect of pragmatism has been the inception of a common outlook that de-emphasizes context, especially history. Unfortunately, people have tended to misinterpret pragmatic thought and its emphasis on consequences. Focusing on consequences has been misread as a suggestion that context carries little importance. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to understanding how practices of governance work and who is best served by those practices. While many useful articles and monographs are available on specific topics in the field of public personnel administration, few have as great a value as those that place fundamental issues of governance in their broader political and histoncal contexts. Ingraham's The Foundation of Merit: Public Service in Amencan Democracy is a book that places the concept of "merit" in public service organizations within such a broad political and historical context. Ingraham's analysis of federal personnel policies is based primarily on the research of political scientists and reflects her considerable personal experience with efforts to promote long-sought change.