Political Science 540, American National Institutions, Spring 2000

Prof. Frank Baumgartner


Questions and discussion topics for week 4, February 2:


Readings: Neustadt; Edwards, Kessel and Rockman.


Choose one of these topics for a five page paper if you choose to do one this week. In any case, come to class prepared to discuss the following:


1.      The introductory chapter lays out a set of conceptual problems in the field. Review one of those in some detail, and propose a project that would avoid the most important pitfalls.

2.      Are the problems associated with the study of the presidency going to disappear as we gather more data on more presidents, or are there more important problems?

3.      What analytic problems are posed in the study of the presidency that are avoided in the study of other institutions? That is, what are the particular problems of presidency research, per se?

4.      Neustadt gives advice to presidents. Is Paul Light’s chapter indicative of a design that we could use to see if his advice was used? How would one evaluate the effectiveness of a given president?

5.      In designing a research project on the presidency, what would be the most promising set of theoretical issues that one could address with a reliable and generalizable research project? What important elements of the presidency would be virtually impossible to study in a systematic manner?

6.      Choose one of the papers in the edited volume and explain how the methodology put forward there could be used, with a specific example in some detail. That is, propose a sketch of a project based on one of the approaches laid out.

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