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Research Papers: Recycling the Garbage Can: An Assessment of the Research Program
Paper No: 1392 R
Title: Recycling the Garbage Can: An Assessment of the Research Program
Publication Year: 1998
Author(s): Terry M. Moe; Jonathan Bendor;  Kenneth Shotts
Abstract Text: The garbage can theory of organizational choice is one of the best-known innovations in modern organization theory. Yet it has not received the kind of systematic assessment that it both deserves and needs. This paper is an attempt to provide that assessment. In the first part of the paper, we evaluate the early verbal theory and argue that it fails to provide an adequate foundation for scientific progress. In the second part, we analyze and re-run their well-known computer model and discover that its agents move in lockstep patterns that are strikingly different from the spirit of the verbal theory. Indeed, the simulation and the theory turn out to be quite incompatible. In part three, we examine how the authors have built upon these incompatible formulations in developing the theory further. We assess the promise and performance of this larger research prograrm and find that many of the problems that attended the original article have intensified over time. We conclude by arguing that a fundamental overhaul is required if the theory is to realize the promise of its intriguing central ideas.
Published In: American Political Science Review, March 2001, Vol. 95 Issue 1, pp. 169-190
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