A book review for the American Political Science Review. An excellent work deserving of widespread attention and serious reflection, The Skill Factor in Politics captures in careful detail the attributes of political expertise needed to see a new policy through the legislative process--in this case, changing California laws concerning commitment of mental cases. Information as resource is stressed. The book confronts a little-understood aspect of the policy process, termination of outmoded or dysfunctional policies, programs, and institutions, and provides us with the raw materials needed to ask the right questions in other cases. Its chief weakness is that the cases examined are extraordinary success stories--in most settings, one would expect the entrepreneurs to make many more mistakes, to be less dedicated, and to have less luck.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.