Each year, the International Political Science Association's Research Committee on the Structure of Governance sponsors the Levine Prize. It is named in honor of Charles H. Levine, who was a distinguished member of the Research Committee and served on the editorial board of its official journal, Governance. The prize is awarded on the recommendation of a distinguished committee. This year's committee was composed of Professors Frank R. Baumgartner (Pennsylvania State University), Mark Thatcher (LondonSchool of Economics and Political Science), and Jon Pierre (University of Gothenberg).
The committee unanimously decided to award the 2006 Levine Prize to Herrington J. Bryce for his book, Players in the Policy Process: Nonprofits as Social Capital and Agents, published by Palgrave/MacMillan in 2005. Bryce's book was the most theoretically innovative of those reviewed by the committee, which enthusiastically endorses the manuscript. Applying principal- agent theory to the area of local government and service delivery in particular, Bryce demonstrates and explains the important role of nonprofit agencies in delivering a range of services in various areas of public policy. Further, because of the different relations that nonprofits and profit-making companies have with local government and the public (and the different incentives that drive their actions), he shows why nonprofit agencies are so often relied upon by public agencies. Bryce sees nongovernments as "institutional forms of social capital" and elaborates the complex relationships between those organizations and government. The application of principal-agent theory to NGOs allows for a better understanding of the contingencies and relationships between the state and civil society. Given the growing reliance on NGOs in the delivery of public services, Herrington Bryce's book thus offers a valuable contribution to our understanding of contemporary governance.
Organizations with substantial public trust and public purposes themselves, nonprofit organizations often compete head-on with much larger and often more professional private corporations for government contracts. The NGOs often win. In fact, they consistently win in many areas. Bryce demonstrates the reasons for these facts. In applying well-developed theories from principal-agent literature, he makes clear that there are substantial advantages to public-NGO alliances in government service delivery. The committee believes that the book has general applicability and will be increasingly important in the years to come as governments across the globe continue to search for the most efficient and effective ways to provide public services. Partnerships with organizations that themselves serve a public service are already a substantial part of this equation and will increasingly be so. Bryce shows why this is the case.
Herrington Bryce is Professor of Business Administration at the College of William & Mary and is affiliated with The Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy. He teaches Non-Profit Organization.