Growing Resentment: Regulating Farm Worker Safety in Washington State Orchards

Abstract

This case focuses on Monty Paradis, a manager charged with overseeing farm worker health and safety, who discovers surprising results in the data he has about a state regulatory program called the Eyes and Falls initiative. This data dispel his previous assumptions, and other results that leave him with more questions than answers. In an effort to rigorously analyze the data on this initiative, he employed regression analysis to determine whether the initiative showed a relative decrease in injuries and costs. Paradis knew that regression models could potentially be quite helpful, but they needed to be interpreted with care given the assumptions that are involved. He also knew that few of the stakeholders involved with the program would understand the statistical details and that he would need to communicate the results in a way that demonstrated his willingness to be forthright and transparent about the results.

Observing Paradis offers students a unique opportunity to practice integrating a range of policy analysis, management, and quantitative skills. Just as Paradis struggles to make a value laden decision - albeit one that requires political savvy and a clear sense of resource allocation for results - about which kinds of injuries and risks to target, and which performance indicators would be appropriate to determine success, students come face to face with the challenges of problem solving in an era of regulatory reform. The case includes background on factors related to injuries, injury costs, and background on the data. Students will grapple with devising a strategy that meets or even harnesses their various interests while fulfilling the agency's most important obligations. Based upon this analysis, students will be challenged to develop a plan that appropriately balances external forces, thoughtfully selects from the portfolio of regulatory tools, and considers the seriousness and urgency of the problem.

The value in the ongoing, five part case series is not just in the specific strategic management and consensus building skills or lessons in quantitative analysis, but in blending these areas of expertise which are not often brought together in case studies or courses in public management. The detailed teaching note available for this case includes: a case analysis and observations; guidance for using the case series: several questions to facilitate class discussions; important lessons learned, study guidance; and suggested assignments, readings, and references.

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