Manager-in-Chief: Applying Public Management Theory to Examine White House Chief of Staff Performance

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In an effort to examine the causal determinants of performance dynamics for the administrative presidency, the authors apply empirical public management theory to White House administration to explain managerial performance. Utilizing original survey data that measure the perceptions of former officials from the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton administrations, we conduct quantitative analyses to determine the extent to which a chief of staff’s background, relationship with the president, and internal as well as external management approaches shape overall perceptions of White House administrative efforts. The authors find that managerial dimensions matter considerably when explaining the dynamics of White House organizational performance.