What's on Steve Kelman's bookshelf?

The professor of public management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government shares his favorites

“The Ambiguities of Experience”
By James G. March

This short book by one of the most distinguished organizational theorists discusses why we often draw false conclusions from experience and makes some suggestions for how we might do a better job. Read more on Amazon.com.

“Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA”
By Daniel Carpenter

Carpenter, a professor at Harvard and perhaps the brightest young political scientist writing about government agencies, discusses how the Food and Drug Administration managed to become what he believes is the most powerful and influential regulatory agency in the world. Read more on Amazon.com.

“The Modern Firm: Organizational Design for Performance and Growth”
By John Roberts

This book provides an accessible introduction to things economists say about how to design organizations to work better. Despite its title, much of what the book discusses is relevant to government organizations. Read more on Amazon.com.

“A Free Life”
By Ha Jin

I always try to include a novel among the books I’m reading. This one is about a Chinese student who comes to the United States to get his Ph.D. and ends up opening a Chinese restaurant outside Atlanta. It is a beautiful story about the contemporary immigrant experience — by no means sugar-coated but ultimately very affirming about the United States. Read more on Amazon.com.

About the Author

Kelman is professor of public management at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Connect with him on Twitter: @kelmansteve

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group