Toward a Theory of Administrative Tethering is the culmination of a seven-year commitment to investigate and explore the highly complex and chaotic nature of collaboration, specifically in child protective services (CPS). This journey began with an atypical relationship between a doctoral student practicing in CPS and an academic mentor. Examination of the CPS system in North Carolina necessitated more in-depth study to foster change relevant to improve service delivery for front-line staff and to engage executive leadership at the local and state levels. All CPS actors must function in a highly coordinated fashion to provide the orderly delivery of this social product to the public as needed and as expected. Herbert Simon's work is stitched into each chapter, and his perspectives provide the binding agent to the emerging Administrative Tethering (AT) framework (2002, 2000, 1962). Administrative Tethering (AT) can be conceptualized as a strategic management design that employs a series of inter-agency bonding actions and techniques to address the multi-dimensional nature of a complex, pressing public problem. This work concludes with the identification of new research and its potential utility and overall impact for the both the practitioner and academic.
Kevin Marino is CEO and founder of REAL Academy.
Robert Wright is Director of Research at REAL Academy.
Chapter 1: Toward a Theoretical Construct of Administrative Tethering
Chapter 2: The Child Protection Function: The North Carolina County Perspective
Chapter 3: The Application of Administrative Tethering
Chapter 4: AT & the Importance of Trust
Chapter 5: AT & the Decision-Making Process
Chapter 6: Conclusion
Collaborate! That's the prescription for making complex public policies work. But it's a normative prescription that too often fails to produce an administrative cure. In this fascinating new book, Robert Wright and Kevin Marino explore the very complicated world of child protective services to develop a fresh, innovative approach they call "administrative tethering," an approach that is both a richly textured description of programs that work and a prescription that offers great hope in improving the delivery of public services.
Kevin Marino and Robert Wright have constructed an administrative framework – Administrative Tethering – as a strategic management design that relies on bonding actions across partners to address complex public problems. In the tradition of Donald A. Schon (1984), The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action and Chris Argyris and Donald A. Schon (1974) Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness, the authors embrace the gaps in public administration theory and practice through informed scholarship and illustrated through case study research in child protective services. The result is the offering of an applied strategic approach to collaboration in public services built on instilling high levels of trust, value, accountability, and motivation at the partnering level. Informed by those in the front lines of public service delivery, Administrative Tethering has much to offer for those seeking to accomplish meaningful outcomes in complex administrative settings.
The collaborative process in government is often aspired to by many public managers, elected officials and policy makers, but far too often not nearly achieved. In Toward the Theory of Administrative Tethering, Wright and Marino undertake this daunting task of examining the importance of collaborative efforts and the value of trust in making decisions within complex and challenging environments. Based upon years of public sector experience, the authors provide an intellectually superior framework for those seeking to improve their administrative processes.