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Great Policies: Strategic Innovations in Asia and the Pacific Basin

Great PoliciesEdited by John D. Montgomery and Dennis A. Rondinelli

This book describes 11 "great policies"--strategic innovations designed to deal with problems that transcend normal boundaries of government action. Examples range from the Marshall Plan in the U.S. to the "reverse brain-drain" policy in China, and from the financing of land reform by the distribution of industrial bonds in Taiwan to exploration of community natural resource management in Latin America. These actions did not emerge incrementally from existing policies, but represented departures from conventional organizations and sectoral responsibilities. Although such strategic innovations are rare, these examples suggest that when they do occur, they are recognizably different from policies that develop incrementally. They create new paradigms of public action, they generate new expectations and demands, and they require extraodinary processes of implementation. Such "mega-policies" imply the possibility of developing transferable lessons from otherwise unique cases.

These "mega-policies" range from economic growth strategies to social initiatives and from international economic transactions to technical exchanges. Dealing with policy interactions like these provokes tension between tradition and innovation and calls for sustained political involvement and experimental approaches to administration. Often mega-policies arise from a transforming vision or a coherent strategic view of the future. Although they represent departures from conventional governance, these cases were not driven by ideological preconceptions or by the personal vision of a charismatic leader. They frequently emerged from bureaucratic frustrations with the inability of traditional jurisdictions to deal with unconventional crises. Their very dependence on administrative innovation exposed them to especially virulent forms of bureaucratic turf warfare, which in turn called for dynamic, but constant political leadership. This work will be of great interest to scholars and policy makers involved with economic and social change, and Asian/Pacific and Third World Studies.

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