Riccucci-O’Leary Award

Katie Vinopal’s Socioeconomic Representation: Expanding the Theory of Representative Bureaucracy wins the 2021 Riccucci-O’Leary Award. This article explores whether socio-economic similarity between bureaucrats and clients affects bureaucrats’ perceptions of their relationships with those clients. The article is particularly strong because of its innovativeness and theoretical contribution. The article focuses on SES representation which is a relevant but underexplored dimension in representative bureaucracy scholarship. It examines the intersection with racial and ethnic representation as well as the influence of SES saliency in the organizational context, more specifically the school context. Furthermore, the empirical analyses show the author’s excellent analytical skills. The committee praises the author for her excellent contribution to the theory of representative bureaucracy and to the study of representation and diversity in public organizations more broadly.


The Riccucci Award Committee also identified articles as runners-up (equally ranked) for the Award:

Gravier and Roth in Bureaucratic Representation and the Rejection Hypothesis: A Longitudinal Study of the European Commission’s Staff Composition (1980–2013) examine an interesting question that is at the heart of the theory of representative bureaucracy – what if a group does not desire representation? Based on an analysis of the evolution of the staff composition of the European Commission from 1980 to 2013, the authors develop a “rejection hypothesis” which challenges one of the foundations of representative bureaucracy. The article shows the value of expanding theoretical and empirical work on representative bureaucracy to international organizations.

Alasdair Roberts in Bearing the White Man’s Burden: American Empire and the Origin of Public Administration provides a major contribution to our field by exploring the treatment of race in American PA. Roberts’ research and resulting scholarship does an outstanding job of unmasking an often-overlooked aspect of the field of public administration and its anti-democratic, power-over experiments in colonies or dependencies of color. His historic analysis not only offers a valuable theoretical contribution but has also practical relevance by showing how the past does have an impact on the present.


The 2021 Riccucci-O’Leary Awards Committee

Sandra Groeneveld (Leiden), Chair, Claudia N. Avellaneda (Indiana), Meghna Sabharwal (UT-Dallas) and Brian N. Williams (Virginia)



PMRC 2021 will be held virtually and will not include an awards ceremony. The 2021 Awards will be formally presented at PMRC 2022 when we can, hopefully, convene in person.

The Riccucci-O’Leary Award is given annually for the bst article on diversity, broadly defined, published in JPART or PPMG.