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Hoover’s associationalism (to use Ellis Hawley’s term) not only idealized technical expertise but also the closely related institutional structure of professional engineering and trade associations. In the many conferences he helped organize, he relied on individuals from these groups to reach consensus. His engineering background obviously inﬂuenced his methods of administration; however, it is important to keep in mind that many administrative theorists during this period who were not engineers shared his desire to place power with nonpartisan experts.
The tendency of policy makers to follow technocratic views was fundamentally important in the debates about evaluating the public-interest standard. On the one hand, for example, Hoover assumed that the technical or instrumental advantages of high-power broadcasting were sufﬁcient to justify its continuance. 60 On the other hand, Hoover also seemed to acknowledge the existence of two ways to view the problem of regulating broadcasting in the public interest. ” The ﬁrst issue involved technical questions of administrative rule making aimed at reducing interference, including deciding how to allocate wavelengths and control power.
But engineers played the key mediating role, serving to cement a relationship that otherwise would have been fragile. ” A reliance on technical expertise helped overcome potential contradictions by making manifest an objectiﬁed, neutral public interest. 18 A major policy issue during the period following World War I but preceding the rise of radio broadcasting was a reevaluation of international agreements involving the use of the radio spectrum. An Interallied Wireless Commission met in Paris after the war and issued recommendations updating the preceding international radio convention, held in London in 1912.