July 4, 2016 4:09 pm

A Resource Endowment Theory of Human Capital and Agency Performance

PAR: Public Administration Review

Manuel P. Teodoro & David Switzer

This article advances a resource endowment theory of human capital and performance in government organizations. Building on research on human capital and firm location in business economics and task complexity in public management, the authors argue that an agency's ability to implement policy is determined both by its scale and by the human capital of the population from which it draws its employees.

The authors cast labor as a factor of production in public agencies and argue that access to higher-quality labor improves government effectiveness. The effect of human capital on performance is especially pronounced when agencies are charged with the implementation of technically complex tasks. The empirical subject is U.S. municipal water utilities’ compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Comparing records of compliance with more and less complex regulatory requirements provides evidence consistent with the general model. The findings carry important implications for public management and policy design.

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