Leadership in American Politics

Jeffery A. Jenkins and Craig Volden, eds.

In the polarized governing environment of American politics today, the problem of leadership becomes ever more pressing and ever more vexed. What defines leadership, what determines its importance and effectiveness, and how does it differ from one sphere of influence to another: these are the questions Leadership in American Politics addresses in an effort to clarify the causes and consequences of the actions that public leaders take.

The authors—prominent scholars from the major subfields of American politics—discuss the form and content of leadership in their areas of expertise across the spectrum of American government: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; political parties; interest groups; bureaucracies; the states; and foreign policymaking. Combining historical, theoretical, and empirical approaches, their essays evaluate the constraints, opportunities, and influence of leadership in each area, as well as the challenges of bridging different realms. At a time when understanding the nature and limits of leadership is more important than ever, this volume lays the groundwork for the systematic study of leadership within and across American political institutions.

“This superb volume integrates insights about political leadership from some of the most respected scholars currently researching American politics. In aggregate, the chapters are theoretically nuanced and empirical rich and examine leadership in a wide range of contexts and levels of US government. Overall, it is the single best treatment of the topic that I have read.”

—C. Lawrence Evans, professor, Department of Government, College of William and Mary

“Jenkins and Volden have assembled a distinguished group of contributors to help revitalize the study of leadership in political science. In this exceptionally coherent and well-constructed volume, contributors address the capacity of national leaders to drive policy change, analyze the different challenges of leaders across the formal and informal institutions of American government, and offer new theoretical perspectives on leadership. The chapters are both interesting from a scholarly perspective and well-suited for assignment to undergraduates.”

—Frances E. Lee, coeditor,Legislative Studies Quarterly, Professor of Government & Politics, University of Maryland

About the Author

Jeffery A. Jenkins is provost professor of public policy and political science, director of the Bedrosian Center, and Judith and John Bedrosian Chair in Governance and the Public Enterprise at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Craig Volden is professor of public policy and politics in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.