Case #1303.0

Reinventing Government in Visalia, CA: A Movement at Risk (B)

Publication Date: January 01, 1995
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The contemporary "reinventing government" movement began with the efforts of Visalia, California, city manager Ted Gaebler to change traditional ways of doing business in that small northern California city. Gaebler would draw on his experiences to inspire Reinventing Government, the book he co-authored with David Osborne. This case presents a detailed and dispassionate account of the changes in Visalia: the end of line-item budgeting, the city's purchase of its minor league baseball team, overnight assignment of police cars to individual offices and, finally, the city's development of its own, city-owned downtown hotel. The case is designed for discussion of the basic principles and significance of "reinvention" and its related concept: entrepreneurial government. Among the questions it raises: How much discretion should public employees have? When should government take on functions, even temporarily, which historically been performed by the private market? What change strategies work--and which backfire? The Visalia, California, experience has reverberated far beyond the city itself. This case allows for analysis of the details and significance of what actually happened there.

Other Details

Case Author:
Harvey Simon
Faculty Lead:
Marty Linsky
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States