Book Review

A Phoenix in the Ashes, by John Mollenkopf.

After almost three years working in the Bronx Criminal Court (most of it spent running our intake department, assisting hundreds of our clients, attorneys, court officers, judges, and the public), I'm still fascinated by my job. I enjoy being a student of criminal justice and operations of a large public bureaucracy. In a course I recently took at Baruch College, I studied Bolman and Deal's "Four Frames." Each frame, the structural, human resource, political, and symbolic, respectively, provides a different way of understanding how an organization functions. While I think that I am naturally inclined to view organizations from human resource and symbolic frames in my own work, I have, while working in the Bronx, gained a better appreciation for the structural and political frames.

The political frame is the view that organizations are an arena for the healthy competition of various factions and groups. Reading Mollenkopf's masterwork on the operation of contemporary New York City politics (covering its evolution from the late nineteen-seventies to the early nineteen-nineties), gave me a rich context for attempting to understand a large organization like the Bronx courts in the political frame. Chapter Three, especially, provides a concise summary of growth, decline, competition, and cooperation between New York's various major demographic groups and economic sectors.

Next, I'll review Street Level Bureaucracy by Michael Lipsky.

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