Strategy and Accountability: Structural Reform Litigation and Public Management

Anthony Michael Bertelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural reform litigation involves legal action against public bureaucracies alleging that an official has violated the legal rights of an agency's client. A pattern of rights infringements raises the specter of systemic dysfunction. If the court finds for the plaintiffs, or if the defendant agency agrees to settle, the remedy reconstitutes agency operations. What are the incentives faced by public managers whose agencies are involved in structural reform litigation? How might public managers retain public accountability while strategically using the institutional arrangements present in such cases? This article examines these questions through a spatial bargaining model and discusses its analytical implications in the context of a comprehensive suit against the child welfare agency in Kansas City, Missouri.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-42
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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