Hollie Russon-Gilman in Stanford Social Innovation Review: Government as Government, Not Business

Andrew Young — October 13, 2017

In a recent article for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Hollie Russon-Gilman asks the question, “How should we be thinking about the role of government in delivering services to the American people?” The piece, “Government as Government, Not Business,” examines the history and scholarship on “citizens as consumers,” “citizens as customers,” and “citizens as shareholders.” Russon-Gilman argues that while industry has many lessons for government, unique and important responsibilities fall on government that mean it cannot be run completely like a business:  

“Government needs to innovate and adapt to 21st-century tools, approaches, and models. We all want government to function better and more effectively serve the American people, but while a private sector approach to governing is captivating, it won’t get us to where we need to go by itself. Unlike a corporation generating zero-sum returns, the government is not a business; it is the people’s government. Government is a manifestation of citizens’ preferences, and citizens should be empowered as co-producers of government services and goods. At a time of widespread disillusionment with government and a president who stokes anger and resentment in areas inside and outside traditional political battlefields, the answer is not to treat citizens more like customers.”

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