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Counterpoint: A Postmodern Perspective

September 1, 2014
by Peter Robertson

peter-robertsonIt was the fall of 1980, and I had just started the Ph.D. program in Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  I was meeting with Dr. Joanne Martin, the Assistant Professor who had just started serving as the director of the doctoral program.  Joanne had suggested that I meet with the OB faculty to learn about their research projects, so I decided to begin with her.  Shortly after she started to tell me about her research on organizational stories, and her broader interest in the then-emerging topic of organizational culture, there was a knock on the door.  She introduced the man to me as a recent alumnus of the Ph.D. program, and he proceeded to explain how his own research was yielding interesting findings that were very compatible with the kinds of issues Joanne was addressing and reinforcing the notion that culture plays an important role in organizational functioning. He was quite excited, and thought they would be publishing the results of their work soon. (more…)

California Could Take Big Step to Address Voting Rights

August 29, 2014
by Jeremy Loudenback


"I Voted" stickers to promote voter turnout on election day. photo credit: brianjmatis via photopin cc

“I Voted” stickers to promote voter turnout on election day.
photo credit: brianjmatis via photopin cc

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court disqualified a bid endorsed by Democratic state lawmakers that would have allowed an advisory measure on the 2014 ballot in reaction to the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision that allows unlimited campaign donations from corporations and unions.

Proposition 49 would have asked the state’s voters about their support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 decision. A majority of the California court, though, maintained that the advisory nature of the proposed proposition was not in line with a ballot-measure system that usually asks voters to weigh in on changes to state law.

Despite the demise of Proposition 49, it’s not the only contentious California measure with a tie to the highest court in the land. (more…)

Research update – Janet and Bob Denhardt

Robert and Janet Denhardt

Robert and Janet Denhardt

Janet and Bob Denhardt’s  Public Administration Review (PAR) article, “The New Public Service:  Serving Rather than Steering”(2000)  was selected this spring as one of the 75 most influential out of the more than 3500  articles appearing in the journal since its inception in 1940.   Based on this honor, they were asked to submit an article to PAR that evaluates the impact of their arguments on the field of public administration.  The New Public Service, which was subsequently published in book form, presented a set of ideals and related practices emphasizing democratic norms and citizen engagement in the conduct of public administration.  Offered as an alternative to the then dominant market-based models of New Public Management, the New Public Service addressed core questions about the nature of public service, the role of administration in governance, and the value tensions surrounding bureaucracy, efficiency, equity, responsiveness and accountability.

In their forthcoming article in PAR, the Denhardts revisit the key features of the New Public Service and provide an update on how and to what extent those ideas have been discussed, promoted, practiced, and applied over the last fifteen years.  Based on their review of the empirical evidence, they find that New Public Service principles and practices have become increasingly evident in scholarship and practice.  Specifically they find that citizen engagement has proven to be both effective and widely used, that the “public interest” is increasingly significant both an ideal and guide to practice, and that the reliance of governments on entrepreneurship and privatization has decreased. As a result, they conclude that neither the principles of the New Public Service nor the principles of the New Public Management are now dominant.  Instead, they suggest instead thatthe present state of public administration theory and practice is best characterized as a nuanced blend of both democratic and market-based values.   Still, however, they advocate that business and market-practices should be used in government only within a larger framework of democratic values.   They are currently under contract with ME Sharpe Publishers to produce the 4th edition of their book, due to be published in 2015.


Denhardt, Janet and Robert Denhardt, forthcoming.  “The New Public Service Revisited,” Public Administration Review.

Denhardt, Janet and Robert Denhardt, forthcomingThe New Public Service, 4th edition.  Armonk, NY; ME Sharpe.

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