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The Blame Game : Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government - Christopher Hood

The Blame Game

Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government

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The blame game, with its finger-pointing and mutual buck-passing, is a familiar feature of politics and organizational life, and blame avoidance pervades government and public organizations at every level. Political and bureaucratic blame games and blame avoidance are more often condemned than analyzed. In "The Blame Game," Christopher Hood takes a different approach by showing how blame avoidance shapes the workings of government and public services. Arguing that the blaming phenomenon is not all bad, Hood demonstrates that it can actually help to pin down responsibility, and he examines different kinds of blame avoidance, both positive and negative.

Hood traces how the main forms of blame avoidance manifest themselves in presentational and "spin" activity, the architecture of organizations, and the shaping of standard operating routines. He analyzes the scope and limits of blame avoidance, and he considers how it plays out in old and new areas, such as those offered by the digital age of Web sites and e-mail. Hood assesses the effects of this behavior, from high-level problems of democratic accountability trails going cold to the frustrations of dealing with organizations whose procedures seem to ensure that no one is responsible for anything.

Delving into the inner workings of complex institutions, "The Blame Game" proves how a better understanding of blame avoidance can improve the quality of modern governance, management, and organizational design.

"In The Blame Game, Christopher Hood identifies one of the most common gripes that citizens have about bureaucracy and government, namely, that no one in either accepts responsibility for making mistakes of omission or commission. In this brief and often illuminating book, Hood explores the diverse and insidious ways in which ducking blame manifests in public life."--Science "Hood addresses how and why government officials avoid blame when things go wrong. The starting point for this remarkable book is the observation that government decisions sometimes turn out to be harmful, and that the question of responsibility inevitably arises... This highly readable volume will help readers understand some of the more troubling aspects of modern government."--Choice "In taking us through the permutations and definitions of the concept and its actualization in the form of structures, impact and possible outcomes, Hood employs a style and approach that is open and engaging. Certainly it is cerebral and analytical, but he does not shirk from using what at times is a matey almost tabloid style."--Andrews Massey, LSE Blog

List of Illustrations viiPreface ixPart One: Blame, Credit, and Trust in Executive GovernmentChapter One: Credit Claiming, Blame Avoidance, and Negativity Bias 3Chapter Two: Players in the Blame Game: Inside the World of Blame Avoidance 24Part Two: Avoiding Blame: Three Basic StrategiesChapter Three: Presentational Strategies: Winning the Argument, Drawing a Line, Changing the Subject, and Keeping a Low Profi le 47Chapter Four: Agency Strategies: Direct or Delegate, Choose or Inherit? 67Chapter Five: Policy or Operational Strategies 90Chapter Six: The Institutional Dynamics of Blameworld: A New Tefl on Era? 112Part Three: Living in a World of Blame AvoidanceChapter Seven: Mixing and Matching Blame-Avoidance Strategies 135Chapter Eight: Democracy, Good Governance, and Blame Avoidance 157Chapter Nine: The Last Word 181Notes 187References 201Index 219

ISBN: 9780691129952
ISBN-10: 0691129959
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 5th December 2010
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.7  x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.47