Cole, Wiliam; Neuse, Steven M.; Sanders, Richard
June 1984
Public Administration Quarterly;Summer84, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p166
Academic Journal
This article focuses on the popularity of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a model for regional development throughout the world. Apparently, the TVA was a radical experiment for its time. It was an affirmation of positive government intervention where free enterprise feared to tread and its regional structure was a symbol of the perennial American quest for government close to the people. The dramatic development of this unlikely new form of administration, exemplified by the charismatic leadership of David Lilienthal and the constant need, at first, to fend off hostile private power companies and assuage the fears of local governments, engendered or popularized new concepts to explain or justify the Authority's action. Thirty and forty years later the academic community still has constructs such as cooptation and grass roots democracy in its intellectual tool box. Finally, it probably is not an exaggeration to suggest that TVA is common to the vocabularies of most Americans. What is less obvious, however, is that the TVA may also be one of the best-known symbols of American progress, ingenuity, technology, and organizing skills in the entire world. Since the middle 1930s, the TVA has been the focus of interest by foreign professionals, government administrators, and elected officials.


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