About Bob Behn

Bob BehnRobert D. Behn, a lecturer at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, is the faculty chair of the School’s executive-education program on“Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies that Produce Results.”He specializes in governance, leadership, performance, and the management of large public agencies and conducts custom-designed executive-education programsfor public agencies..

Bob earned a B.S. in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in decision and control from Harvard University. He served on the staff of Governor Francis W. Sargent of Massachusetts, as a scholar in residence with the Council for Excellence in Government, and on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and of Duke University's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, where he was director of its Governors Center.

For over two decades, Bob has taught numerous executive-education programs and made a variety of presentations to public officials on such topics as: "Strategies for Ratcheting Up Performance in Government"; "Ten Key Issues in Performance Measurement"; and “Performance Leadership.”

He has led retreats for gubernatorial offices and cabinets in Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Washington, and conducted a variety of executive seminars for agencies in half the states (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming). He has also conducted seminars for federal agencies and the U.N., as well as in Copenhagen, Reykjavik, Sydney, Berlin, Lisbon, and Bangkok.

Bob's books include Rethinking Democratic Accountability (Brookings, 2001) and Leadership Counts: Lessons for Public Managers (Harvard University, 1991). He is also co-editor of Innovation in American Government (with Alan Altshuler, Brookings, 1997) and co-author of Quick Analysis for Busy Decision Makers (with James Vaupel, Basic Books, 1982).

Bob's many articles include: “Why Measure Performance? Different Purposes Req
uire Different Measures,” Public Administration Review (2003); “Rethinking Accountability in Education,” International Public Management Journal (2003); "The Psychological Barriers to Performance Management: Or Why Isn't Everyone Jumping on the Performance-Management Bandwagon?" Public Performance & Management Review (2002); “Strategies for Avoiding the Pitfalls of Performance Contracting,” Public Productivity and Management Review (1999, with Peter A. Kant); “Branch Rickey as a Public Manager,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (1997); "The Big Questions of Public Management," Public Administration Review (1995); and "Management By Groping Along," The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (1988).

Bob's "Cutback Budgeting" won the Raymond Vernon Prize for the 1985 article in The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management that "makes the greatest contribution to intellectual discourse on public policy and management." His "Management and the Neutrino: The Search for Meaningful Metaphors" won the Marshall E. Dimock Award for the best lead article in Public Administration Review in 1992. At the 1996 meeting of the American Society for Public Administration, Bob delivered the first Donald C. Stone Lecture: "Performance, Managerial Competence, and Democratic Accountability: The Three Challenges of Public Administration."

Bob grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. At the end of the 1967 season, however, he went to Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox’ last game. (If you don’t understand the significance of this, he will explain it to you in more detail than you want to know.) Bob’s newspaper pieces include: "A Professor's Ode to the Red Sox," The Wall Street Journal (1975); "Red Sox Lessons for Our Elite," The Washington Post (1986); "The Next Ted Williams? I'm Your Man," The New York Times (1995); and "Before the Curse," The Boston Globe (1998).

Robert D. Behn
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138