Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

9/1/2012 - 5/31/2013

Funding Totals

$37,800.00 (approved)
$37,800.00 (awarded)

Rationality and Improvisation in the Cold War State: The Development of Systems Analysis in the U.S.

FAIN: FA-56664-12

Gerald Paul Berk
University of Oregon (Eugene, OR 97403-5219)

This study traces the development of the science of “systems analysis” from its origins in the RAND Corporation in the 1950s into a public management system adopted by the US federal government in the 1960s. A “high modernist” project, rooted in RAND’s efforts to develop a science of war, systems analysis was very controversial. Its promise to rationalize policy through planning, budgeting and control conflicted with the often messy and improvisational nature of weapons system development, public budgeting, and social welfare administration. Therefore, I suspect applied systems analysis had more to do with government failure in the 1960s and afterward than commonly thought. By re-narrating the causes of success in the Cold War and failure in the Great Society, this project promises to open public discussion over the role of the government in US society to a wider range of options and to advance scholarly thinking about the state in American political development.