AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wish to thank the staff at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library for their assistance with the research for this article.
Reform As Affirmation: Jimmy Carter's Executive Branch Reorganization Effort
Version of Record online: 7 JUL 2008
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 31, Issue 1, pages 104–120, March 2001
How to Cite
SEYB, R. P. (2001), Reform As Affirmation: Jimmy Carter's Executive Branch Reorganization Effort. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 31: 104–120. doi: 10.1111/j.0360-4918.2001.00158.x
- Issue online: 7 JUL 2008
- Version of Record online: 7 JUL 2008
- Cited By
Modern presidents must negotiate the tension between, on one hand, public demands for systemic change and, on the other hand, contextual and institutional constraints that limit their authority and ability to achieve “reconstructive” reforms. Jimmy Carter's executive branch reorganization effort illustrates how institutional decision-making processes can impede presidents' attempts to pursue innovative approaches to reform. This article maintains that a “garbage ca” decision-making process led Carter and his aides to abandon their initial novel “bottom-up” approach to reorganization in favor of the traditional “top-down” structural approach adopted by their predecessors. The article concludes that institutional pressures compelled the recent president most intent on repudiating the past to affirm it.