Profits of Distrust
Citizen-consumers, drinking water, and the crisis of confidence in American Government

(Forthcoming publication)

Manuel P. Teodoro, Samantha Zuhlke & David Switzer

Cambridge University Press, 2022

The choices Americans make about drinking water reveal deeper lessons about trust in government and civic life.

Issue framing and public willingness to pay water & sewer rate increases

“Emphasizing the public health and safety benefits of water and sewer utilities' work is more likely to win support for rate increases than are other benefits of utility service.”

Bureaucratic Ambition
Careers, Motives and the Innovative Administrator

“Teodoro uses sensible theorizing, compelling case studies, and unique data to show that two masters—current employers and future employers—influence how and whether administrators innovate. Bureaucratic Ambition is among the most important books on bureaucracy in recent years.” - Robert Maranto, University of Arkansas

Class, Race, Ethnicity, and Justice in Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance

“The substantive results of our analysis carry disturbing implications for public health in poor communities, where members of racial and ethnic minorities face greater risk of unsafe drinking water.”

Environmental Federalism in Indian Country: sovereignty, primacy, and environmental protection

“Tribes with implementation primacy… enforce federal environmental laws more rigorously - especially smaller facilities that might otherwise be neglected under EPA administration.”

Gendered Ambition: Men’s and Women’s Career Advancement in Public Administration

“Compared with their male and secondary school peers, female and elementary principals, on average, have more years of classroom teaching experience prior to becoming principal…  Men are more likely to have been athletic coaches on the path to administration. Our analysis also suggests that individuals respond to this gendered career system: Female principals express less desire for the superintendency than do their male counterparts.””

“Buffered from the political risks of controversial policies and more responsive to regulatory sticks and carrots, private firms may be more effective than public agencies in implementing controversial public policies, whether or not they are more efficient.”

Comment on ‘U.S. Urban Water Prices: Cheaper When Drier,’ by Luby, Polasky, and Swackhamer

“Our examination and reanalysis of water pricing… does not support Luby, et al.’s main claim that U.S. water prices are ‘cheaper when drier.’ Once improved measures of prices and scarcity are applied, there appears to be no meaningful relationship between scarcity and price.”

Water and Sewer Affordability in the United States, 2019

“Changes in rate structure have shifted water and sewer systems' relative cost burdens from high-volume to low-volume customers.”

When Governments Regulate Governments

“What matters most when governments regulate governments are not the carrots and sticks available to regulators, but rather the regulated entity’s political costs of compliance and political prospects for appeal against the regulator, and the regulator’s political costs of penalizing a fellow government agency.”

“If we value academic excellence and gender equity, public school leadership posts must not just go to the boys.”

Public water waste reporting: contextual correlates and conservation outcomes

“Our findings underscore the fundamentally social nature of participatory surveillance as a means of implementing water restrictions. Authorities seeking to follow California's model should bear in mind that demographic, socioeconomic, institutional, and political contexts are likely to condition the effects of participatory surveillance approaches, and plan accordingly.”

Citizen-Based Brand Equity: A Model and Experimental Evaluation

“Unlike private firms, public agencies’ branding efforts are inexorably political. Consequently, the effects of branding on public perceptions are subject to the perennially potent partisanship that shapes public opinion in the United States.”

Water and Sewer Affordability in the United States

“Affordability is a household-level phenomenon: if a low-income family in Portland is struggling to pay its bills, the fact that they would be better off in Pasadena and worse off in Providence is irrelevant. Rather than comparing their own affordability metrics with other communities’, utility leaders should seek to maintain affordability levels that are consistent with their own organizational goals and values.”

“We observe a number of parallels between presidential-congressional relations and baseball. The president is analogous to a manager. A roll call is analogous to a game that the president’s team plays. Votes supporting and opposing the president are analogous to runs scored and allowed... A president whose party holds large majorities in both houses of Congress is akin to a manager with an all-star roster; we would expect such a president to win most roll calls without extraordinary effort.””

Measuring Household Affordability for Water and Sewer Utilities

“Abandoning the flawed convention in favor of the metrics advanced here can greatly strengthen the way that the utility community thinks about and responds to affordability concerns.”

The Human Capital Resource Challenge: Recognizing and overcoming small utility workforce obstacles

“Just as a utility must find a source of water supply and financial resources, it also must have a source of quality workers to succeed.”

When Professionals Lead: Executive Management, Normative Isomorphism, and Policy Implementation

“Professional engineering in the executive ranks of local government utilities leads to greater compliance with federal drinking water regulations… Professionalism can bolster
public policies, at least to the extent that policies align with the predominant norms of a profession charged with its implementation. But what professionalism helps, it also can hinder.”

“Although they were once thought impracticable because of technological constraints, water rates crafted to reflect individual customers’ demand characteristics are now not only possible, but desirable.”

Citations are the lifeblood of my profession.
Please use my work - and reference it when you do.