High Risk and High Stakes: Health Professionals, Politics, and Policy

High Risk and High Stakes: Health Professionals, Politics, and Policy

High Risk and High Stakes: Health Professionals, Politics, and Policy

High Risk and High Stakes: Health Professionals, Politics, and Policy

Synopsis

Wysong analyzes the nature and extent of the involvement of seven major health and safety professional organizations in the development of the most significant national reform effort in occupational health policy since the OSH Act of 1970: The High Risk Occupational Disease Notification and Prevention Act. Wysong provides a penetrating appraisal of the influence of sponsorship, interpenetration, and resource dependency. He concludes that the policy involvement activities of these groups are politically linked to the interests of organizations located in the corporate or public sectors of the economy.

Excerpt

It is difficult to understand the workings of contemporary industrial society without considering organizations as central elements or building blocks of the structure of modern society. a large body of scholarly research has provided rich documentation of the scope and centrality of organizations in virtually all areas of human activity and at all stages in the life cycle. Organizations are repositories of resources that are used to motivate and mobilize social action-- money, jobs, information, votes, violence, moral authority--and there is continuous competition among groups interested in withholding or committing organizational resources for some activity.

It is known that organizations do not always act in isolation. They often pool their resources along industry lines or political interests to form trade associations and political action committees in order to advance individual and collective interests. the possibilities of collective action by organizations has stimulated study of interorganizational networks and the ways in which they can act in concert. Sometimes collective action may be directed by intraindustry competition to obtain advantage in the market place, and sometimes it is directed by an interest in shaping public policy.

This book makes the usually abstract notions of organizational power, interests, and network linkages comprehensible in its examination of the struggle over national legislation on occupational health policy. Wysong provides in-depth analysis of the activities undertaken by seven health and safety professional associations to support or defeat the High Risk Occupational Disease Notification and Prevention Act. Two very significant contributions of this book should be emphasized.

Wysong's research shatters the artificial division between the profit and nonprofit sectors. This rare glimpse into the operation of health professional's organizations reveals that political and economic interests shape the way in which professional associations become involved in the formation of health policy. This is a far cry from the view of professional associations as bodies of detached, objective experts who combine their knowledge and ethical codes to advise policy makers about the implications of alternative courses of action.

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