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North Castle Books

Civic Service: What Difference Does It Make?
Authored by: James L. Perry; Ann Marie Thomson

2004 Best Book Award, Public and Nonprofit Division, Academy of Management

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-1275-5 Paper ISBN: Not Available
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USD: $61.95 N/A
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Available to all countries
Information: 248pp. Tables, figures, bibliographic references, name index, subject index.
Publication Date: October 2003.  


Description: The concept and practice of civic service is deeply rooted in America's past, present, and future, and has been a featured component of recent presidential agendas. Yet despite ongoing debates about the methods and values of civic service, no recent book has systematically analyzed the effectiveness and outcome of service programs in America.

Civic Service: What Difference Does It Make? presents a thorough, research-based evaluation of public service programs in the United States. Divided into four key parts, this groundbreaking volume presents original information not found anywhere else:
--Part I is an historical overview of public service programs in America;
--Part II describes the research program used by the authors to evaluate the outcomes of public service activity;
--Part III analyzes and evaluates the actual outcomes and results of national service programs using multiple perspectives of pubic servants, their beneficiaries, national institutions, and the community;
--Part IV contains a complete analysis of the book's key lessons and the implications for successful public service programs of the future.

Selected Contents:

Tables and Figures
Part 1. Ideological and Historical Context
1. The Ideal
2. Policy Evolution: Policy Cycle One: Civilian Conservation Corps; Policy Cycle Two: Fighting Poverty; Policy Cycle Three: Conservation and Youth Corps; Policy Cycle Four: Service as a Problem-Solving Strategy; Generalizations about the Evolution of Service in America; Conclusion
Part 2. Evidence and Methods
3. The Nature of the Evidence: Where We Have Been & Where We Are Going; Bricks and Mortar-The Nature of the Evidence; Review of Service-Related Research: Sources and Quality of Existing Evidence; Gauging Effectiveness of Service; Bricks and Mortar-Addressing Problems in the Evidence; Bricks and Mortar-Making Use of What We Have; Conclusion
4. Methodology: Defining Civic Service; An Operational Definition of Civic Service; Drawing Inferences from Diverse Strands of Research; Sample Size and Sampling Methods; Data Collection Methods; Judging Research Quality; Civic Service Programs in the Synthesis: Research Design, Threats to Validity, Bias, Summary; Conclusion
Part 3. Research Synthesis Findings
5. Civic Service Outcomes: Server Outcomes: Skill Development, Civic Responsibility, Educational Opportunity, Self-Esteem, Tolerance for Diversity, Satisfaction from Serving, Health; Impacts on Beneficiaries: Direct Beneficiaries; Indirect Beneficiaries; Institution Outcomes Service Quality, Institution Creation; Community Impacts: Community Strengthening, Benefit-Cost Ratios, Volunteer Leveraging; Conclusion
6. Qualities of Successful Programs: Program Management: Program Design: Feasibility of Urban, Non-Residential Corps, Clear Focus, Manageable Scope, and Structural Simplicity, Program Duration-Goal Congruence, Geographic Dispersion of Members, Applying an Effective Change Theory, Project Selection, Goal Setting and Outcome Measurement; Team/Crew Leaders; Staff-Corps Member Relations; Staff Motivation; Communications; Summary; Training; Member Recruitment and Retention: Attracting Members, Retaining Members, Summary; Fiscal Management: Cost per Member, Funding Strategies, Financial Sustainability, Summary; Sponsoring Agency; Leadership; Program Visibility; Administrative Burdens; Conclusion
Part 4. Summing Up and Taking Stock
7. Drawing Conclusions About Civic Service: Generalizations About Civic Service and Its Outcomes: Civic Service and Its Outcomes, Individual Mediating Characteristics and Outcomes, Service Goals and Outcomes, Individual Mediating Characteristics and Implementation, Devolution, Collaborations, and Service Outcomes; Research Needs: Mediating Variables, Underdeveloped Research about Implementation, Outcomes, Programs; Concept Definition and Measurement, Other Research Needs; Conclusion
8. Policy Implications: The Evolution of Civic Services Objectives; Accomplishment-Innovation Tradeoffs; Taking National Service to Scale; Concluding Observations
Appendix A. Searching the Literature
Appendix B. Civic Service Synthesis Coding Protocol
Appendix C. Civic Service Programs Included in the Synthesis
Name Index
Subject Index
About the Authors

Comment(s): " Civic Service: What Difference Does It Make? is the most thorough and thoughtful assessment of the impacts of civic service in the United States to date. Well-known service scholars Jim Perry and Ann Marie Thomson assess a broad range of research on civic service programs, from the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s to AmeriCorps today. They find patterns in the research indicating meaningful outcomes, and they find holes in the research indicating that further inquiry is needed. This book elevates our understanding of service scholarship, knowledge, and public policy. For both scholars and practitioners of civic service, this is an essential book." -- Michael Sherraden, Ph.D., Director, Center for Social Development, Washington University in St. Louis

"I can think of no one better equipped to assess the promise -- and the reality -- of national service than Jim Perry. A scholar and a hands-on evaluator, he brings both theoretical framework and a nitty gritty sense of how theory plays out on the ground." -- Steven Waldman, Editor-in Chief and co-founder, Beliefnet

"James Perry and Ann Marie Thomson have themselves provided a vital public service. They not only insightfully summarize what we know about civic service, but also inform us on how to overcome the challenges to this ideal. If civic service is ever to become truly national, it will be because of this book. The tragedy of September 11 gives their work extraordinary timeliness." -- Charles Moskos, Northwestern University; author, A Call to Civic Service

"If there is a more comprehensive, insightful, and compelling treatment of the historical context, rationale, challenges, and promise of civic service in America, I am not aware of it. Perry and Thompson's work may become the definitive treatise, indispensable to the practice of and research on civic service." -- Robert Goodwin, President and CEO, Points of Light Foundation

Review(s): "This book is an excellent read. It is well written, well organized, and well thought out. ... it would be of interest to anyone who is interested in volunteerism, promoting civic responsibility, and understanding the conflicting dynamics of classical liberalism and republicanism. ... a remarkable, thoughtful examination of an issue that hits at the heart of what it means to be an engaged citizen in a representative democracy." -- Administrative Science Quarterly

"A fresh empirical look at what works in the area of civic service and the outcomes that result in the goal of the Perry and Thomson book, and it is a promise on which they deliver. ...The author's research is original, timely, methodically rigorous, and empirical. ...The implications of this book are that partnerships matter, that the government is part of the solution but not the whole solution, and that program design, implementation, and evaluation require considerable thought and planning." -- Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Vol.34, No.3

"...this is an important book. ...it could be used as a valuable supplemental text in graduate courses in public adminitration, public management, and public policy... It is clearly written, well researched, convincingly argued, and clear in its conclusions about the implications of public service for research and public policy." -- Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol.25, No.3

"Perry and Thomson offer academic relevance in Civic Service; at the same time they provide an important service to policymakers and practioners. This is a rare and potent combination." -- Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol.16:2

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