26 Oct 2010

Conflict inside a public organization

I just wrote this paper. It's a retake on the issues I covered in my dissertation, distilled into 24 pp or so.

Conflict Inside a Public Organization: Origins, Costs, Persistence and Solutions

Abstract: It is difficult to understand conflict within a business groping for higher profits or a bureaucracy producing unmarketed products for unknown reasons. Conflict within the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MET) is easier to observe because it has lasted for over thirty years and because MET produces water for a small number of customers. This paper explores the origin and cost of conflict within MET, a cooperative of 26 member agencies. It then turns to the persistence of conflict and some suggestions for resolving conflicts. The key action requires that institutions designed to handle abundant water be reformed to manage scarce water. I present an economic solution using auction markets that would fit within MET's legal and operational structure, ration water for both equity and efficiency, and recognize past contributions and subsidies by MET's member agencies.

I'd love to get any feedback/comments...