Hargrove, Erwin C. 1930-

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Hargrove, Erwin C. 1930-

(Erwin Charles Hargrove)

PERSONAL: Born October 11, 1930, in St. Joseph, MO; son of Erwin C. and Gladys Hargrove; married; children: three. Ethnicity: “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.” Education: Yale University, B.A., 1953, Ph.D., 1963.

ADDRESSES: Home—Nashville, TN.

CAREER: Brown University, Providence, RI, member of faculty, 1960-76, professor of political science and department chair, 1971-73; Urban Institute, Washington, DC, senior fellow, 1973-75; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, professor of political science, beginning 1976, now professor emeritus, Alexander Heard Professor, 1985-86, director of Vanderbilt Institute for Policy Studies, 1976-85, department chair, 1992-94.

AWARDS, HONORS: Richard Neustadt award, Presidential Research Group of the American Political Science Association, 1988, for Jimmy Carter as President: Leadership and the Politics of the Public Good; Vanderbilt University Alumni Education Award, 1994.


Presidential Leadership: Personality and Political Style, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1966.

Professional Roles in Society and Government: The English Case, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1972.

The Power of the Modern Presidency, foreword by Harold D. Lasswell, Temple University Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1974.

The Missing Link: The Study of the Implementation of Social Policy, Urban Institute (Washington, DC), 1975.

(Editor, with Paul K. Conkin, and contributor) Tennessee Valley Authority: Fifty Years of Grass-Roots Bureaucracy, University of Illinois Press (Champaign, IL), 1983.

(With Michael Nelson) Presidents, Politics, and Policy, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1984.

(Editor, with Samuel A. Morley) The President and the Council of Economic Advisors: Interviews with the C.E.A. Chairmen, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1984.

(Editor, with Jameson W. Doig, and contributor) Leadership and Innovation: A Biographical Perspective on Entrepreneurs in Government, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1987.

Jimmy Carter as President: Leadership and the Politics of the Public Good, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1988.

(Editor, with John C. Glidewell, and contributor) Impossible Jobs in Public Management, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1990.

Prisoners of Myth: Leadership of the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1933-1990, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.

The President as Leader: Appealing to the Better Angels of Our Nature, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1998.

(Editor) The Future of the Democratic Left in Industrial Democracies, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 2003.

(Editor, with John E. Owens) Leadership in Context, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 2003.

The Effective Presidency: Lessons on Leadership from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS: Erwin C. Hargrove is the author of several volumes on twentieth-century American politics. In 1981 Hargrove, through Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Public Policy Studies, was involved in a symposium marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The essays presented there were published in Tennessee Valley Authority: Fifty Years of Grass-Roots Bureaucracy, a book Hargrove edited with Paul K. Conkin. The TVA originated in the 1930s as part of a vast social welfare program and is perhaps best known for its success in harnessing the power of the area’s rivers. The TVA system of dams and hydroelectric plants brought electricity and running water to millions of people in Appalachia. At the time, this was one of the poorest sections of the country, and its rural inhabitants had benefited little from the advances of the twentieth century.

During its first five decades, the TVA became a major regional development agency with great influence in the South. The essays in Hargrove and Conkin’s book analyze both the effectiveness of the original goals of the TVA and its ongoing administrative problems. The conference participants and contributors to Tennessee Valley Authority are economists, political scientists, and historians, and most of the essays concentrate on the bureaucratic personality of the agency rather than its overall social impact. The work is divided into four sections that examine the history of the TVA, its leadership, certain legal issues, and its overall political legacy. Conkin contributed an essay that explores the restrictions placed on the TVA from its inception, contradicting its image as a bastion of decentralized progressivism.

William R. Childs, writing in South Atlantic Quarterly, noted that “the reader will discover some important insights among the jargon-laden social science essays” in Tennessee Valley Authority. Political Science Quarterly contributor John T. Tierney called the book “a comprehensive and balanced portrait of America’s most famous regional development agency” and “a valuable contribution to the literature on government agencies.” Hargrove brought his initial study of the TVA leadership to fuller form in an extended study of the nine TVA board chairs from 1933 to 1990. His book Prisoners of Myth: Leadership of the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1933-1990 develops the story of the TVA following the end of the war years.

One of Hargrove’s studies of the American presidency is titled Presidents, Politics, and Policy. This work, written with Michael Nelson, examines the executive branch of the U.S. government and its relationship to the rest of the country’s political infrastructure. To explore these issues, the authors analyze several aspects of each twentieth-century presidential administration. These factors center on the leadership qualities of men such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy and the manner in which they were able, or unable, to implement their individual and partisan political agendas. Hargrove and Nelson analyze shifts in policy and effectiveness and critique the merits and shortcomings of the presidency itself.

Included in Presidents, Politics, and Policy are chapters examining other elements related to the executive branch, such as its constitutional powers. I.M. Destler, writing in Political Science Quarterly, singled out this last facet of the book, noting that “since the analysis everywhere is of high quality, this eclecticism adds breadth and insight.” Virginia Quarterly Review contributor James Deakin wrote that Presidents, Politics, and Policy “reeks of common sense.” Deakin admitted that Hargrove and Nelson’s thesis “is not as glamorous as some other theories of the presidency, but it covers more ground and therefore explains more.”

Hargrove drew on his work on administrative leadership for The President as Leader: Appealing to the Better Angels of Our Nature. Hargrove told CA that in this work he “adapts James McGregor Burn’s idea of ‘transformational’ leadership and weds it to Richard Neustadt’s idea of ‘transactional’ leadership in which presidents act incrementally to shore up their power resources.” Hargrove also noted that the “most important task of presidents is to ‘teach reality’ to publics” and he bases his argument on “Aristotle’s dictum that the task of leaders is to teach the public ‘the spirit of the constitution.’” Reviewing this work for the Presidential Studies Quarterly, Richard M. Pious called it a “judicious analysis of presidential leadership” that is “particularly relevant in this season of our discontent.”

Hargrove recently commented: “I have always written as a scholar with the hope of reaching a larger audience. I owe a great debt to Richard Neustadt, but my work has been more critical of presidential power in response to history. I am inspired to write on the subjects I have chosen by an interest in authority and leadership, and by the purposes and misuses of authority and leadership.”



Political Science Quarterly, fall, 1984, John T. Tierney, review of Tennessee Valley Authority: Fifty Years of Grass-Roots Bureaucracy; winter, 1985-86, I.M. Destler, review of Presidents, Politics, and Policy.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, September, 1999, Richard M. Pious, review of The President as Leader: Appealing to the Better Angels of Our Nature, pp. 734-735.

South Atlantic Quarterly, summer, 1985, William R.Childs, review of Tennessee Valley Authority, pp.336-337.

Virginia Quarterly Review, autumn, 1985, James Deakin, review of Presidents, Politics, and Policy.