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Lindblom, Charles Edward

BIBLIOGRAPHY of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies and
Carwardine, Richard. 2006. Lincoln. New York: Knopf. of the American Political Science Association.
Donald, David Herbert. 1995. Lincoln. New York: Simon and Lindblom helped found the Institution for Social and
Schuster. Policy Studies, intended to move the university’s social sci-
Gienapp, William E. 2002. Abraham Lincoln and Civil War ences into interdisciplinary conversation while enhancing
America: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press. their relevance to public issues. As director from 1974 to
McPherson, James M. 1990. Abraham Lincoln and the Second 1980, Lindblom led mapping projects designed to frame
American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press. research questions with the professional care normally
Thomas, Benjamin P. 1952. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. New reserved for the conduct of research. Present-day research
York: Knopf. on the not-for-profit sector traces partly to an exploratory
ISPS project, as do Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter’s
evolutionary economics and Robert Lane’s studies of mar-
Jennifer L. Weber
ket and personality.
In a presidential address to political scientists titled
“Another State of Mind” (1982), Lindblom argued that
“conventional theory is embarrassingly defective. It greatly
LINDBLOM, CHARLES needs to call more heavily on radical thought” (p. 20). At
EDWARD four regional political science meetings, he asked audi-
1917– ences: “Suppose—just to limber up our minds—that we
faced the fanciful task of designing … a political/eco-
Raised in Turlock, California, Charles Edward Lindblom
nomic system that would be highly resistant to change.
attended Stanford University and then went to graduate
How to do it?” A “simple and fiendishly clever” approach
school at the University of Chicago. Shortly after he began
would be “to design institutions so that any attempt to
teaching economics at the University of Minnesota in
alter them automatically triggers punishment” (“The
1939, the department chair rebuked Lindblom “for giving
Market as Prison,” 1982, p. 324). Far from fanciful, some-
a talk to an undergraduate club on … Lange’s concept of thing approaching that arrangement occurs as market sys-
market socialism.” He subsequently “met with many tems imprison policy, sometimes via tangible constraints,
other sharp intolerances” from faculty and did not receive as when officials fear businesses will move if “excessively”
tenure. After moving to Yale, he found greater diversity of regulated. More insidious and fundamental are imprison-
thought but nevertheless “was heavily influenced by the ments of mind, a wide range of helpful policy options
intolerances of the discipline of economics” (Democracy becoming unthinkable because their adoption would
and Market System, 1988, p. 17). require deviating from tightly held and carelessly exam-
Although the tensions were framed in terms of “good ined beliefs about corporation and market.
economics,” not ideological disagreement, the response to Politics, Economics, and Welfare (1953, with Robert
his dissertation (Unions and Capitalism, 1949) was telling: Dahl) remains the most systematic comparison yet
Whereas the text offered a symmetrical analysis depicting attempted of the price system, hierarchy, polyarchy, and
corporate and union power relations on a collision course bargaining as political-economic processes of rational cal-
likely to lead to serious problems including inflation, culation and social decision-making. It closes with an
reviewers were sure the author was calling for limits on insight still fresh generations later: “Through what social
collective bargaining. Lindblom’s subsequent work reveals processes should action take place? Clearly the answer …
that he already was contemplating restraints on corporate (depends on another) question: What kind of human
executive discretion. being is wanted?” (p. 523).
Lindblom’s research questions and methodology were The idea of incrementalism introduced therein was
so out of favor that the Yale economics chair urged him to refined in “The Science of ‘Muddling Through’ ” (1959),
resign, predicting he would “die on the vine” and never be which still garners hundreds of citations annually. The
promoted to full professor. However, coteaching and core idea, derived in part from Lindblom’s training in
scholarly collaboration with Robert Dahl led to a joint marginalist economic analysis, was a challenge to the
appointment in political science and a gradual shift of Western political tradition’s extreme faith in reason:
attention toward a discipline that recognized the land- Analysis is inevitably incomplete, excessively costly, and a
mark nature of his work. Lindblom chaired the political poor guide to big changes; political interactions negotiat-
science department from 1972 to 1974 and later was ing smaller changes often are both more feasible and more
named to Yale’s most prestigious chair as Sterling Professor reliable. A Strategy of Decision (1963, with David
of Economics and Political Science. He served as president Braybrooke) and The Intelligence of Democracy (1965)

452 I N T E R N AT I O N A L E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F T H E S O C I A L S C I E N C E S , 2 N D E D I T I O N
Lindblom, Charles Edward

offered detailed treatments of mutually adjusting interac- Mobil in The New York Times. The “privileged position of
tion as a method of analyzing and determining policy business” and political-economic inequalities were central
moves, the latter still unparalleled regarding forms of in The Policy-Making Process (1993, originally written in
mutual adjustment other than bargaining. 1973), a soon-classic text for policy-oriented courses. The
Neither critics nor followers did especially well by Market System (2001) summarized the great merits of
disjointed incrementalism. Many readers reduced the con- market systems as social coordinating mechanisms, simul-
cept’s nuances to the oversimplified notion of small steps, taneously offering an elegant overview of systemic defects
degenerating into arguments that Aaron Wildavsky subse- not encompassed in conventional analyses of market
quently pilloried as the search for the “magic size” of an failure.
increment. Some perceived incrementalism as overly con- Usable Knowledge (1979, with David Cohen) argued
servative (Dror 1964, Etzioni 1966), seemingly blaming that professional social inquiry is “incapacitated in con-
the decision strategy for conservative tendencies in U.S. tributing to social problem solving because of its own
politics, or perhaps failing to recognize that, in principle, metaphysics, fashions, traditions, and taboos” (p. 95).
“A fast-moving sequence of small changes can more speed- Inquiry and Change (1990), another APSA best book
ily accomplish a drastic alteration of the status quo than award winner, analyzed inequality as a barrier to rational-
can an only infrequent major policy change” (“Still ity while contrasting the analysis-heavy ideal of scien-
Muddling, Not Yet Through,” 1979, p. 520). tifically guided society with a more egalitarian and cogni-
Goodin and Waldner (1979) argued that actually prac- tively realistic self-guiding society. Among many barriers
ticing incrementalism would be more difficult than it to self-guiding society, foremost is impairment, Lindblom
sounds. Some theoretical understanding is needed to decide argued: Not only corporation and government, but fam-
where and how to intervene, and to determine how long to ily, school, church, and media hamper development of
monitor a policy trial before deciding whether to change it. capacities for probing problems and possibilities. Social
They pointed as well to difficulties posed by threshold and scientists can assist people in understanding and shaping
sleeper effects and questioned the idea that small changes their societies by conducting partisan analysis challenging
are always less dangerous and more reversible. To the claim the status quo better than by aiming for avowedly neutral,
that reforms can be thought of as experiments, they found supposedly authoritative knowledge that actually is for-
nontrivial difficulties in actually learning from early trials. A ever unattainable.
number of analysts pointed to circumstances where the Although following in the tradition of the
value of incrementalism would be reduced, including Enlightenment, then, Lindblom’s “aspiration to improve
Schulman’s (1975) recognition that large-scale policy social problem solving … pursues inquiry and the
choices such as the lunar program sometimes have to be resourceful utilization of its results more than it pursues
undertaken completely if they are to work at all. firm knowledge. Thus, it rewrites Kant’s ‘Dare to know!’
Lindblom acknowledged the validity of some of these as ‘Dare to inquire!’ ”(Inquiry and Change, p. 301).
insights but found that the critics had not really proposed SEE ALSO American Political Science Association;
an alternative way of grappling with the basic predicament: Corporations; Corporatism; Economics;
“Incremental policy making is weak, often inefficacious, Incrementalism; Marginalism; Norms; Pluralism;
inadequate to the problem at hand; and the control over it Political Science; Public Policy
often falls into the wrong hands. It is also usually the best
that can be done,” given the imprisoning effects of corpo- BIBLIOGRAPHY
ration and market, gross political inequalities, and elite-
catalyzed impairments in political thinking by citizens,
government functionaries, and social scientists (Democracy Lindblom, Charles E. 1949. Unions and Capitalism. New Haven,
CT: Yale University Press.
and Market System, 1988, p. 11). Neo-incrementalists
recently have begun to take up the challenge, responding Lindblom, Charles E. 1959. The Science of “Muddling
Through.” Public Administration Review 19:79–88.
to the critics’ concerns and extending incrementalist
Lindblom, Charles E. 1965. The Intelligence of Democracy:
thought to deal better with inequality and with institu-
Decision Making Through Mutual Adjustment. New York: The
tional malfunctioning (Collingridge 1992; Hayes 2001). Free Press.
Lindblom returned to studying the economic side of Lindblom, Charles E. 1977. Politics and Markets: The World’s
political life in Politics and Markets (1977), winner of the Political-Economic Systems. New York: Basic Books.
APSA Woodrow Wilson Award, which concluded, “The Lindblom, Charles E. 1979. Still Muddling, Not Yet Through.
large private corporation fits oddly into democratic theory Public Administration Review 39 (6): 517–526.
and vision. Indeed, it does not fit” (p. 356). The work gar- Lindblom, Charles E. 1982. Another State of Mind. American
nered sufficient public notice to evoke an attacking ad by Political Science Review 76 (1): 9–21.

I N T E R N AT I O N A L E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F T H E S O C I A L S C I E N C E S , 2 N D E D I T I O N 453
Linear Regression

Lindblom, Charles E. 1982. The Market as Prison. Journal of Social researchers typically assume that two variables
Politics 44 (2): 324–336. are linearly related unless they have strong reasons to
Lindblom, Charles. 1988. Democracy and Market System. Oslo: believe the relationship is nonlinear. In general, a linear
Norwegian University Press. relationship between a dependent variable (Y ) and an
Lindblom, Charles E. 1990. Inquiry and Change: The Troubled independent variable (X ) can be expressed by the equa-
Attempt to Understand and Shape Society. New Haven, CT: tion Y = a + bX, where a is a fixed constant. The value of
Yale University Press. the dependent variable (Y ) equals the sum of a constant
Lindblom, Charles E. 1993. Concluding Comment: A Case (a) plus the value of the slope (b) times the value of the
Study of the Practice of Social Science. In An Heretical Heir independent variable (X ). The slope (b) shows the
of the Enlightenment: Politics, Policy, and Science in the Work
of Charles E. Lindblom, ed. Harry Redner, 343–373. Boulder,
amount of change in Y variable for every one-unit change
CO: Westview Press. in X. The constant (a) is also called the Y-intercept, which
Lindblom, Charles E. 2001. The Market System: What It Is, How
determines the value of Y when X = 0.
It Works, and What to Make of It. New Haven, CT: Yale Theoretically, if the dependent variable Y can be per-
University Press. fectly estimated by the independent variable X, then the y
Lindblom, Charles E., and David Braybrooke. 1963. A Strategy should be precisely located on the predicted line. The
of Decision: Policy Evaluation as a Social Process. New York: equation of the predicted line can be expressed as Y = a +
Free Press of Glencoe. bX. The Y (“Y hat”) represents the predicted value Y.
Lindblom, Charles E., and David K. Cohen. 1979. Usable However, actual social data never follow a perfect linear
Knowledge: Social Science and Social Problem Solving. New relationship. In fact, the actual observed value of Y is
Haven, CT: Yale University Press. rarely on the predicted line. Therefore, it is necessary to
Lindblom, Charles E., and Robert A. Dahl. 1953. Politics, take the deviations between the predicted value and actual
Economics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico-Economic value into account through the linear regression model. In
Systems Resolved into Basic Social Processes. New York: Harper.
the linear regression model, for every X value in the data,
Lindblom, Charles E., and Edward J. Woodhouse. 1993. The the linear equation will predict a Y value on the “best-fit-
Policy-Making Process, 3rd ed. Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice
ting” line. This “best-fitting” line is called a regression line.
The linear regression model should then be expressed as Y
= a + bX + e. The e is the error term, or a residual, which
Collingridge, David. 1992. The Management of Scale: Big
represents the distance between predicted value (Y ) and
Organizations, Big Technologies, Big Mistakes. New York: the actual Y value in the data.
Routledge. The goal of linear regression estimation is to develop
Dror, Yehezkel. 1964. Muddling Through—“Science” or Inertia? a procedure that identifies and defines the straight line
Public Administration Review 24 (3): 153–157. that provides the best fit for any specific set of data. A
Etzioni, Amitai. 1967. Mixed-Scanning: A “Third” Approach to basic approach of linear regression is to estimate, by min-
Decision-Making. Public Administration Review 27 (5): imizing the residuals, the values for the two regression
385–392. coefficients (a and b) based on the observed data. In other
Goodin, Robert, and Ilmar Waldner. 1979. Thinking Big, words, the predicted errors estimated by regression equa-
Thinking Small, and Not Thinking at All. Public Policy 27: tion must be smaller than the errors made with any other
1–24. linear relationship. To determine how close the predicted
Hayes, Michael T. 2001. The Limits of Policy Change: scores are to the observed scores, the method of Ordinary
Incrementalism, Worldview, and the Rule of Law. Washington, Least Squares (OLS) is the most popular approach used in
DC: Georgetown University Press.
the linear regression.
Schulman, Paul R. 1975. Nonincremental Policy Making: Notes
Toward an Alternative Paradigm. American Political Science
OLS estimates regression equation coefficients (a and
Review 69 (4): 1354–1370. b) that minimize the error sum of squares. That is, the
OLS approach sums the squared differences between each
observed score (Y ) and its score predicted by the regres-
Edward J. Woodhouse sion equation Y, and produces a quantity smaller than
that obtained by using any other straight linear equation.
The result is a measure of overall squared error between
the line and the data: Total squared error = Σ(Y–Y) 2.
LINEAR REGRESSION In Figure 1 the distance between the actual data point
Linear regression refers to a linear estimation of the rela- (Y ) and the predicted point on the line (Y ) is defined as
tionship between a dependent variable and one or more Y–Y. The best-fitting line to the data should thus show a
independent variables. sum of absolute values of Y–Y to be the minimum, or the

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