In Ports in a Storm a team of Harvard Kennedy School scholars focus diverse conceptual lenses on a single high-stakes management task—enhancing port security across the United States. Their aims are two: to understand how a public manager might confront that complex undertaking, and to explore the similarities, differences, and complementarities of their alternative approaches to public management.
The book takes as its pivot point the singular case of U.S. Coast Guard Captain Suzanne Englebert and her leadership of efforts to secure America’s ports after the September 11 attacks. The Coast Guard had always been responsible for securing America’s ports and coastline. But now it was tasked with safeguarding these critical, complex, and vulnerable assets during a time of war, a job it clearly could not handle alone.
Ports in a Storm considers the monumental challenge of driving rapid change in a complex system involving hundreds of private organizations and scores of government agencies with their operations intricately intertwined. The book examines Englebert’s actions from varied conceptual vantage points, sometimes critiquing questionable calls but more often celebrating her initiative, creativity, persistence, and skill.
The authors use the Coast Guard episode as a testing ground for the eclectic intellectual constructs they have been developing to guide public managers. Instead of starting with theory and searching for examples that fit, they begin with the concrete and then harness scholarship to the service of better practice. And rather than mimic management principles from the business world, they tailor their approach to the very different challenges of managing in a public sector context. The volume allows readers in both the scholarly and practical worlds to see how the theories measure up.
Contributors, including the two volume editors, are Robert D. Behn, John D. Donahue, Archon Fung, Stephen Goldsmith, Elaine Kamarck, Herman B. Leonard, Mark H. Moore, Malcolm K. Sparrow, Pamela Varley, and Richard Zeckhauser.