Thursday, December 10, 2009

Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Chapter 9, "The Elusive Optimal Mix of Exit and Voice"

In general, organizations do not respond equally well to voice and exit. This is not a problem, as long as an organization is responsive to some form of pressure to which it likely to be subjected. The pathological cases -- where exit is available but not responded to, or when voice is exercised but still nugatory -- call for reform, both by introducing institutional changes to make organizations more responsive to existing forms of pressure, and by persuading members and customers to try the alternative form of pressure.

Hirschman demurs from offering an optimal mix of exit and voice. He thinks that a stable, optimal mix is impossible. The effectiveness of any given recuperative mechanism can decay (just as organizations themselves do). Moreover, recuperation methods suffer from a feedback loop that makes whichever method is primary in a given context more dominant over time and makes the other increasingly neglected and even underestimated.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Chapter 8, "Exit and Voice in American Ideology and Practice"

Central place of exit in American history and self-conception: immigration (exit from former land), the frontier (exit from settled part of America), individual social mobility (exit from lower status groups, even in location).

Emerging black political movements have departed from individual mobility as the ideal -- seen as weakening the ability of the group to advance by depriving it of talented advocates.

Short discussion about why option of exit from the country or from its government seems so stunted despite its otherwise central role. At first cut this boils down to positing high entry costs of immigration. Not very compelling -- most Americans are not immigrants, even if their ancestors were. Then more discussion of peculiar factors that may suppress exit from government positions. the key suggestion is that one's role in government could be seen as especially important and consequential because the country is so powerful, and the consequences of it going astray absent one's influence could be so dire.