Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2013

Mitch Daniels and the State of Indiana

by Robert Steven Kaplan and Wendy K. Winer

Abstract

Mitch Daniels, Governor of the State of Indiana, knew he had to make a difficult choice as he sat in his office in December 2010. Should he aggressively push the state legislature to pass comprehensive education reform—a major priority of his administration—or, instead, push for a new "right-to-work" law that he believed might be critical to improving his state's competitiveness? He was concerned that he wouldn't be able to do both during his second term. He prided himself on being an action- and results-oriented governor. He prided himself on being able to work with both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature.

In the elections of fall 2010, the Republicans regained control of the Indiana House of Representatives. Passage of a right-to-work law was not a major part of their election platform because of the union opposition they thought it would generate. Quietly, however, Republicans did support a right-to-work law that was expected to attract more jobs to the state in a very difficult economic environment. Daniels had to weigh the political ramifications as he considered which initiative to pursue. He knew that despite his various accomplishments, this choice would likely impact his legacy as governor. As he weighed the decision, Daniels began to jot down notes about the tradeoffs relating to his various options.

Keywords: Government and Politics; education reform; priorities; Leadership; Public Administration Industry; North and Central America;

Citation:

Kaplan, Robert Steven, and Wendy K. Winer. "Mitch Daniels and the State of Indiana." Harvard Business School Case 414-049, October 2013.