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

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