Global Crises, American Public Administration, and the “New Interventionism” Revisited
AbstractWith global financial, climate, demographic, and terrorist threats challenging nations worldwide, many observers have argued that a return to activist or “neointerventionist” government in the United States and abroad is underway. Incorporating a neo-Weberian perspective on American political development (APD), this article argues that those who see the rise of a new Leviathan in the United States under the Obama administration falsely conflate the “ends” or “how much?” state intervention question with the “means” or “how implemented?” question. When one looks today and historically at the “how implemented” question in the face of domestic and global crises, one repeatedly finds interventionist state policies creating implementation structures which ensure that organized market (or “producer”) interests preserve power, access, and influence in the administration of programs. Thus, the perceived dominance of the state when “ends” shift to meet domestic and global crises is offset in the United States by the perdurability of market interests in the implementation (or “means”) phase because of the path-dependent, constitutive, and layering effects that drive APD. Consequently, the past is likely prologue to the future, regardless of continuing or future U.S. domestic and global crises. The article concludes by assessing the implications of this realpolitik for public administration as a field of practice, research, and administrative theory building.