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Crafting Public Institutions: Leadership in Two Prison Systems

Arjen Boin
ISBN: 978-1-58826-009-3
2001/265 pages/LC: 2001019620
Explorations in Public Policy
"Exploring the potential and pitfalls of building institutions to achieve social and political goals, Boin offers a compelling argument for the study of the policy processes needed to support operations in a risky environment."—Louise K. Comfort, University of Pittsburgh

"[A] significant contribution to the literature on correctional management and public policy. It is must reading."—Mark Fleisher

"A well-written, crystal clear, and intelligent study of institutional design and leadership."—Mark Bovens


Through case studies of two prison systems—the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Dutch prison system—Arjen Boin identifies the challenges and opportunities that confront public managers who want to reorient correctional policy and make prisons more effective.

Crafting Public Institutions contrasts the two prison systems to show how focused leadership—or its absence—can make a major difference in the character and performance of public organizations. The ability of leaders to shape an organization's mission and motivate public servants in accordance with policy goals, Boin concludes, lies at the heart of making institutions work.


Arjen Boin is associate professor of public administration at Leiden University.


The Pros and Cons of Institution Building: Outlines of a Debate. A Theory of Institution Building. Two Prison Systems: The Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Dutch Prison System. The Federal Bureau of Prisons: Leadership and Integration. The Dutch Prison System: Leadership and Fragmentation. Leadership, Institutions, and Public Administration. Designing for Performance.