Blind Men and an Elephant:
Three Partial Views of Public Administration
Dr. Alasdair S. Roberts
Professor of Public Affairs
Truman School of Public Affairs
University of Missouri
Adams Alumni Center
Thursday, October 13
12:00 to 1:00pm
Reception to follow
Professor Roberts has been invited by Distinguished Professor Rosemary O'Leary to present a research seminar based on his paper, "Blind Men and an Elephant: Three Partial Views of Public Administration" (online paper). The seminar will last roughly an hour with a reception to follow. Please join us!
The discipline of Public Administration is concerned with the construction, management, and adaptation of institutions that perform six essential state functions. Three scholarly enterprises -- Public Management, State-building, and American Political Development -- are engaged with questions falling within the domain of Public Administration. Each enterprise has a well-defined but limited view of the domain. These three enterprises rarely engage with each other. Consequently, scholars within each enterprise are sometimes unaware of how their view is distinctive and blinkered. Our overall understanding of Public Administration will improve when barriers between these three enterprises are knocked down. Public Management particularly will benefit from a dialogue among enterprises. Scholars working within Public Management will see important but neglected problems of governance, and new sources of evidence for exploring management problems. They will improve their ability to assess the boundaries of institutional improvement, and anticipate the arrival of new problems.
Alasdair Roberts is a Professor of Public Affairs at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. He is also a Professor (by courtesy) of Law and an adjunct professor of Political Science.
Professor Roberts writes on problems of public administration, law and public policy. His most recent book, Four Crises of American Democracy, will be published by Oxford University Press in December 2016. His previous books include The End of Protest: How Free Market Capitalism Learned to Control Dissent (Cornell University Press, 2013); America's First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837 (Cornell University Press, 2012); The Logic of Discipline: Global Capitalism and the Architecture of Government (Oxford University Press, 2010); The Collapse of Fortress Bush: The Crisis of Authority in American Government (New York University Press, 2008); and Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He has received several book awards. In 2014, he also received Canada's Grace-Pepin Award for his research on open government.
Professor Roberts was elected as a fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration in 2007 and appointed as a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States in 2010. He is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the School of Public Policy, University College London. He has served as co-editor of the journal Governance since 2009.
A Canadian citizen, Professor Roberts received a JD from the University of Toronto in 1984, a Master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard University in 1986, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University in 1994. He was a member of the public administration faculty of Queen's
University in Canada from 1990 to 2001, and of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University from 2001 to 2008. He was the Jerome L. Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University from 2008 to 2014.
His web address is www.aroberts.us.