USC Price School of Public Policy

Price faculty Annette Kim, William Resh honored at book launch event

May 6, 2016

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Dean Jack Knott, center, with Annette Kim and Bill Resh (Photo by David Giannamore) More photos available on Flickr »

From Price staff reports

The USC Price School of Public Policy hosted a special reception on April 28 to celebrate the publication of two books written by faculty — Sidewalk City: Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City (University of Chicago Press) authored by Annette Kim, and Rethinking the Administrative Presidency (Johns Hopkins University Press) by William G. Resh Resh.

“Innovative academic research and interdisciplinary reach are hallmarks of the Price School and both Bill and Annette, through their new books add to that reputation,” Price Dean Jack H. Knott said at the event.

“When you read their books you will not only see a high level of scholarship but also new theories and new methods that engage and provoke thought across disciplines and contribute to both the knowledge in their respective disciplines and to the interdisciplinary scholarship here at the Price School, where we strive to improve the quality of life for people and their communities,” Knott added.

Exploring Presidential problems

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In his book Rethinking the Administrative Presidency, Resh, an assistant professor at USC Price, relied on data drawn from surveys and interviews to rigorously analyze the argument that presidents typically start from a premise of distrust when they attempt to control federal agencies. Focusing specifically on the George W. Bush administration, Resh explains how a lack of trust can lead to harmful agency failure. He explores the extent to which the Bush administration was able to increase the reliability – and reduce the cost – of information to achieve its policy goals through administrative means during its second term.

Arguing that President Bush’s use of the administrative presidency hindered trust between appointees and career executives to deter knowledge sharing throughout respective agencies, Resh also demonstrates that functional relationships between careerists and appointees help to advance robust policy. He employs a “joists vs. jigsaws” metaphor to stress his main point: that mutual support based on optimistic trust is a more effective managerial strategy than fragmentation founded on unsubstantiated distrust.

Reshaping perception of public space

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In Sidewalk City, Kim, the director of Price’s Spatial Analysis Lab (SLAB), focuses on the vibrant sidewalk life and economy of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City — employing a novel approach to the visualization and mapping of this public space.

Ho Chi Minh City is known for having sidewalks bustling with action. Street vendors set up shop to sell a variety of foods and merchandise, creating a social atmosphere with people of different classes lingering to chat over snacks and drinks. To many city officials, it was an unsightly mess that needed to be cleared off and modernized to impress tourists. But to Kim, it was beautiful.

With her book, Kim uses critical cartography and spatial ethnography to provide new insights into the value and potential of this contested public space.

Moreover, Kim’s groundbreaking book was billed as one of the “10 Must-Read Books for Urbanists on Cities, Race and Public Space” according to Next City, a planning-focused news site.

At the conclusion of the event, Knott noted that the Price School will host another event in the fall to celebrate two more faculty book releases — by Pamela McCann and Elizabeth Currid-Halkett.