Commentary: The Paralysis of Analysis

AuthorBertha Lewis
Date01 July 2014
Published date01 July 2014
The Paralysis of Analysis 517
Bertha Lewis
The Black Institute
ohn W. Budd’s article “Implicit Public
Values and the Creation of Publicly Valuable
Outcomes:  e Importance of Work and the
Contested Role of Labor Unions” lays a founda-
tion for real action plans and demands. But as an
organizer for more than 25 years, the world as I see
it on this topic is far simpler than the picture the
article of‌f ers, and it urgently needs those plans and
Professor Roger Green of Medgar Evers College in
Brooklyn, New York, would occasionally use the
phrase “paralysis of analysis” to describe a situation in
which people analyze something to death.
e article considers the range of public values on
work and the options for creating work-related
publicly valued outcomes and notes that there is no
consensus on the best way to def‌i ne or fulf‌i ll public
values. If it leads to action, instead of more analysis, it
will have served a very useful purpose.
Budd’s article properly criticizes as narrow the perspec-
tive of those who see work merely as a private activity
that generates commodities, services, and income. In
my world, work is like breathing, not just how you
earn a living. Work is everything you do every single
day. Play and recreation and rest are all the same as
work.  ere has to be a new def‌i nition of the word
“work.” We have to take it out of the workplace and
put it squarely at the center of human existence.
e rich think that their work is special and that
they work harder than what we typically think of as
e Paralysis of Analysis Commentary
Bertha Lewis is founder and president
of The Black Institute, an action “think
tank” nonprof‌i t organization addressing
systematic issues faced by people of color.
She is former chief executive off‌i cer and
chief organizer of ACORN, one of the largest
community organizations during its exist-
ence responsible for organizing low-income
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 4, pp. 517–518. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12237.

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