This could be the start of something big: Linking early managerial choices with subsequent organizational performance

Steven Kelman, Sounman Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of early events in the history of a country, a social phenomenon, or an organization on later developments has received significant attention in many social science disciplines. Often dubbed "path dependence," this influence occurs when early events influence later outcomes even when the original events do not reoccur. "Path dependence," however, has received little theoretical or empirical attention in public administration. This article discusses how early events in an organization's history can come to influence later outcomes. The article then empirically tests for the presence of path dependence using data from Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in England and Wales, a cross-organizational collaboration inside local government. We find that early choices by the leader of the collaboration about which activities to prioritize to create collaboration set in motion a path creating collaborations that were more successful and less successful, producing differences in crime results almost a decade later. The most successful early priorities involved getting partner organizations to act in collaborative ways, rather than working to improve the attitudes of these organizations toward collaboration. We argue that path dependence should be examined in public administration research from a, prospective, prescriptive perspective, to learn more about what early managerial actions can produce better later results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-164
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author 2014.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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