PMRA Insights

PMRA Insights is an occasional blog from scholars of the Public Management Research Association on issues relating to the study and practice of public management. If you would like to contribute, please contact Ines Mergel at

22 October 2017 | Tear Down the Distinction Between Applied and Basic Research in Public Management, By Lotte B. Andersen

As public management scholars, we invest a lot of energy in doing research on public organizations, and most of us need answers to a very simple question: Why? What will our research be used for? Why should we use so much time to do public management research? Some disciplines divide their research according to two […]

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28 September 2017 | Rebuilding after the storms: The constitutional foundation, By Robert K. Christensen*

The recent natural disasters centered in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have prompted many to look at government with fresh eyes.  Not least of these is President Trump.  Earlier calls to “drain the swamp” seemed distant if not incongruous to presidential tweets that waxed confident, proud and even deferential to government and government officials. Consider […]

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21 August 2017 | Partisan Alignment and Delegation to the U.S. Bureaucracy, By Christine Palus & Susan Webb Yackee*

It was a great honor to receive the Beryl Radin Award at the 2017 PMRC conference at American University in June for our article entitled, “Clerks or Kings? Partisan Alignment and Delegation to the U.S. Bureaucracy” in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.  In this blog post, we will highlight the article’s main […]

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26 July 2017 | The Creation of Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, By Ken Meier

The Public Management Research Association—through its flagship journal, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART)—has always stressed building knowledge through theoretically informed analysis. JPART is clearly a success by all measures. Continued empirical progress, however, needs significant theoretical development. Theory can be viewed as the capital base or the seed corn of our […]

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26 May 2017 | Should Public Management be an Experimental Discipline?, By Oliver James

There has been substantial growth in the use of experiments in public management over recent years. The substantive contributions are becoming broad and deep, and span a range of research questions about core topic areas. These observations were part of the motivation for Sebastian Jilke, Gregg Van Ryzin and I to put together an edited […]

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28 April 2017 | The Role of the Pubic Administrators and Some Implications to Our Programs, By Stuart Bretschneider*

Recent efforts by the new administration to change a wide variety of policies and programs has led me to look back at how our field has thought about the role of the public administrator.  Much of the current thinking on this is still rooted in the work by political scientists from the 1940s and 1950s.  […]

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23 March 2017 | Making a Difference in the Real World through Public Affairs Research, By Stephanie Moulton

In light of the recent election in the U.S. and reliance on “alternative facts”, it is easy to feel disheartened about our role as researchers– particularly researchers who care about issues that are often central to public debates.  This topic recently came up during one of our monthly fireside chats between faculty and doctoral students […]

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10 March 2017 | Expertise, Advice Seeking, and the President, By Michael Siciliano

Individuals across the organizational spectrum face complex work tasks and decisions that require them to reach out to others for information and advice.  An important question is: “Which individuals are sought for advice and why?” Particular sources of information influence the way in which we understand novel events and shape the criteria and options we […]

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February 2017 | Some Principles of Strategic Thinking, By John M. Bryson

For the next several months I’ll be concentrating on writing the fifth edition of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations. (The current edition came out in 2011.) From the very first edition I have emphasized that strategic thinking, acting, and learning matter most, not any particular approach to strategic planning. Indeed, if public leaders […]

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January 2017 | Thinking about Undergraduate Education in Public Affairs, By Mary K. Feeney*

Public affairs programs across the country are developing undergraduate certificates, concentrations, minors, and majors in public administration, affairs, policy, and service. Some view this as an opportunity to expand programming and resources while, for others, it is another challenge in an environment of tightened budgets, expanded administration, and increased pressure to do more with less. […]

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Public Administration Under Trump: An Age of Institutional Decline? By Don Moynihan

The unexpected victory of Donald Trump has upended all manner of enterprise, but is especially salient for those of us who study the workings of government. Public administration can be seen as the study of people, organizations, and institutions. The institutions part of that formulation has become a good deal more important since the election. […]

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