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September 12, 2011


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Erik Gerding

One common reaction to the financial crisis, is that it was a failure of "leadership" and that we need better leaders in place to stave off future crises. This "Great Woman/Great Man" theory of financial reform is great for selling magazines. But we can't rely on the right person (whatever that means) being there at the right time.

What I like about the scholarship of the panelists is that it focuses instead on institutional design. Dan & Brett's great Regulatory Contrarions piece, for example, proposes some creative ways to harness and institutionalize policy entrepreneurs. One of the biggest challenge to any institution that seeks to use policy entrepreneurs is figuring out how performing well will advance their long term career prospects.

Onnig Dombalagian responded to one talk that I gave over a year ago that included a policy entrepreneur feature with a witty, but apt reference to the cursus honorum in Rome.

There is more to be said for the Great Woman/Great Man approach at critical junctures -- as when a new agency is formed.

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