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Policy Entrepreneurship at the Dorr Foundation


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A look at the Dorr Foundation and how a nonprofit changed traffic engineering in the United States.

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Policy Entrepreneurship at the Dorr Foundation

  1. 1. Policy Entrepreneurship at the Dorr Foundation <ul><ul><li>PUAD 777 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Political Economy of Nonprofit Organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>University of Baltimore </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Baltimore, Maryland </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5 May 2008 </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>John V.N. Dorr proposed policy to paint shoulder of highway </li></ul><ul><li>After resistance from state highway officials, Dorr Foundation sponsored multi-state test </li></ul><ul><li>Test showed effectiveness in preventing accidents </li></ul><ul><li>Dorr Foundation provided information to policy-makers nationwide on effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Highway shoulder lines now common nationally </li></ul>
  3. 3. John Van Nostrand Dorr <ul><li>Born 1896, died 1962 </li></ul><ul><li>Metallurgical engineer & inventor: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dorr thickener: settles and thickens pulp </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dorr classifier: separates fine and coarse material in ore pulp </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Worked for Thomas Edison </li></ul><ul><li>Founded his own companies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dorr Cyanide Machinery Company (1910)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dorr Company (1916)‏ </li></ul></ul>(Anonymous 1962)‏
  4. 4. Dorr Foundation of New York <ul><li>Established in 1950 </li></ul><ul><li>Grant-making foundation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post-retirement utilization of professionals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Educational projects for youth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support for other organizations in field </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused on chemistry and metallurgy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Generally meets normalized definition of charitable activities </li></ul>(Schindler 2007; Fishman and Schwarz 2006, pp. 87-88)‏
  5. 5. Problem: Driving in the dark <ul><li>Headlights of opposing traffic can disable vision </li></ul><ul><li>Drivers may hug center line </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May sideswipe opposing traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Drivers may veer to outside </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May run off road at a curve </li></ul></ul>(Ingraham 1955)‏
  6. 6. Solution: White Shoulder Line <ul><li>Marks outside boundary of road </li></ul><ul><li>Creates lane between shoulder line and center line </li></ul><ul><li>Dorr attempts to persuade Connecticut Department of Highways </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Letter in 1952 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Series of letters in local newspapers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Connecticut tested on Merritt Parkway in 1954 </li></ul><ul><li>New York tested on Hutchinson River Parkway in 1954 </li></ul>(Schindler 2007; Anonymous 1954)‏
  7. 7. The Safety Stripe <ul><li>New York Times photograph of an experimental shoulder stripe in 1957 </li></ul><ul><li>Sign: “Stay in Line” </li></ul>(Ingraham 1957)‏
  8. 8. Resistance to Change <ul><li>The public demanded the lines after results showed significant decrease in accidents </li></ul><ul><li>Many highway officials believed studies were tainted by various effects </li></ul><ul><li>Cost predicted at $150/mile for striping </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$1150 in 2007 dollars </li></ul></ul><ul><li>By 1957, the shoulder line was considered &quot;highly controversial&quot; </li></ul>(Ingraham 1957; Schindler 2007)‏
  9. 9. Initial Role of the Foundation <ul><li>Dorr redirects Foundation into highway safety </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinates and funds a four-state study (1957)‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>7500 miles of stripes installed in CT, NJ, OH, RI </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Already standard in UT; limited use in AZ, LA, MD, MA, MS, OR, and VA </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Dorr Foundation study </li></ul><ul><ul><li>19% decrease in accidents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>35% decrease in nighttime accidents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>37% decrease in fatalities and injuries </li></ul></ul>(Ingraham, 1957; Schindler 2007)‏
  10. 10. The Foundation's Expanded Role <ul><li>Following successful test results </li></ul><ul><li>Provided general information about the studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Further test results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Record of adoption </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Worked with other highway safety groups and state departments </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fifty years later, shoulder lines are common on highways </li></ul>(Jones 1999)‏
  11. 11. The Nature of Legacy <ul><li>Foundation as legacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dorr Foundation is model for using family funds to pursue goals of family </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foundation provided structure and ability to meet objectives set by Dorr and his wife </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Family legacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Family continues to advocate for safety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In 1974, John V. N. Dorr II worked for speed limit on West River in Maryland </li></ul></ul>(Jones 1999; Graves 1974)‏
  12. 12. References <ul><li>Anonymous (1954, January 9). Night driving test on; Connecticut parkway curbings painted white to aid autoists. The New York Times , 17. </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymous (1962, July 1). John van Nostrand Dorr dies; metallurgist, 90, was inventor; designs put to world-wide use in mining industry-aided highway safety crusade for safety invented classifier educated by mother set up foundation in '50. The New York Times , 57. </li></ul><ul><li>Fishman, J. J. and S. Schwarz (2006). Nonprofit Organizations (Third ed.). University Casebook Series. New York: Foundation Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Graves, A. (1974, May 26). Speed limit urged for river. The Washington Post , D13. </li></ul><ul><li>Ingraham, J. C. (1955, January 5). Line on road's edge is cutting accidents. The New York Times , 1-18. </li></ul><ul><li>Ingraham, J. C. (1957, September). Automobiles: Edges; controversial right shoulder line to be tested for safety value four-state test New York's viewpoint. The New York Times , X33. </li></ul><ul><li>Jones, M. F. (1999). The other family tree: Leaving your legacy in a private foundation. Albany Law Review 63 (2), 567-592. </li></ul><ul><li>Schindler, S. (2007). Preventing crashes on america's highways. In J. L. Fleishman, S. J. Kohler, and S. Schindler (Eds.), Casebook for The Foundation: A Great American Secret , pp. 66-70. New York: Public Affairs. </li></ul>