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Rosemary O'Leary

Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 4060
University of Kansas


Rosemary O'Leary was appointed the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas in 2013 following a 24-year career at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University (Phanstiel Distinguished Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership) and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington (Professor). O'Leary is the author or editor of twelve books and more than 135 articles and book chapters on public management, and she has won twelve national research awards (including seven senior scholar awards) and ten teaching awards. She is also the only person to win three Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration awards for Best Dissertation (1989), Excellence in Teaching (1996), and Distinguished Research (2004). O'Leary was president of the Public Management Research Association from 2017-2019. In 2019, the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) established the annual "Rosemary O'Leary Prize" for Outstanding Scholarship on Women in Public Administration.

She was the creator and coordinator of the Minnowbrook III conferences (2008) which assessed the future of public administration around the world. In 2017 she won the Provan Award for “Outstanding Empirical Theory” given by the Academy of Management, the Frederickson Award for “Lifetime Achievement and Continuous Contributions to Public Management Research over an extended career” given by the Public Management Research Association (PMRA) and the Routledge Award for “Outstanding Contributions to Public Management Research” given by the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM). O’Leary was the 2016 recipient of the John Gaus Award (for a “lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration”) given by the American Political Science Association and the 2014 recipient of the Dwight Waldo Award (for “distinguished contributions to the professional literature of public administration and in recognition of a distinguished career as author, educator, and public administrator”), given by the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). Earlier she won the Charles Levine Award (2007) given by ASPA and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), as well as the ASPA/NASPAA Distinguished Research Award (2004). An elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration, O’Leary was a senior Fulbright scholar in Malaysia (1998-99) and in the Philippines (2005-06). In 2014 she was an Ian Axford Public Policy Scholar in New Zealand.

From 2003 to 2005 O’Leary was a member of the NASA’s Return to Flight Task Group assembled in response to the Columbia space shuttle accident. She also has served as a consultant to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Federal Executive Institute; U.S. Council on Environmental Quality; U.S. Department of Interior; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Geological Survey; U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; International City/County Management Association; National Academy of Sciences; National Science Foundation; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Indiana Department of Environmental Management; U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution; and LMI Consulting.


My teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that my focus should be on students as great learners, rather than on myself as a great teacher. I accomplish this by concentrating on four streams in the classroom: knowledge, critical thinking, creative thinking, and an enthusiasm for public service.

Teaching Interests

  • Public administration
  • Public Management
  • Collaboration
  • Organization theory
  • Environmental policy
  • Law


My current research centers on collaboration as a leadership and management strategy. I focus both on the process of facilitating and operating in multi-organizational arrangements to solve problems that cannot be solved or easily solved by single organizations, as well as collaboration with the public.

Research Interests

  • Public Administration
  • Public Management
  • Collaborative Public Management
  • Collaborative Governance
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Administrative and Environmental Law
  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Collaborative Problem Solving
  • Retrofitting collaboration into New Public Management governance schemes
  • Collaboration as a leadership and management strategy
  • Comparative conflict resolution at the local government level


As a professor of public administration, I believe it is my responsibility to share my knowledge with practitioners and to learn continuously about the challenges they face. I do this by offering training, presentations, coaching, and workshops on collaboration as a leadership and management strategy, as well as training in interest-based collaborative problem solving.

Selected Publications

O'Leary, R. (2019). The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerrilla Government, 3rd edition, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Hilton, R. M., & O'Leary, R. (2018). Leading in Place: Leadership Through Different Eyes, New York: Routledge.

Durant, R., Fiorino, D., & O’Leary, R. (Eds.). (2017). Environmental Governance Reconsidered: Challenges, Choices, and Opportunities (R. Durant, D. Fiorino, & R. O’Leary, Eds.). Cambridge: MIT Press. 451.

Osorio, A. & O'Leary, R. (2017). The Impact of Courts on Public Management: New Insights from the Legal Literature. Administration and Society, 49(5), 658-678.

O'Leary, R. (2017). The New Guerrilla Government: Are Big Data, Hyper Social Media, and Contracting Out Changing the Ethics of Dissent? The 2016 John Gaus Lecture. PS: Political Science and Politics, 50(1), 12-22.

Imperial, M. T., Ospina, S. Johnston, E. O'Leary, R. Thomsen, J. Williams, P. & Johnson, S. (2016). Understanding Leadership in a World of Shared Problems: Advancing Network Governance in Large Landscape Conservation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 14(3), 126-134.

O'Leary, R. & Gerard, C. (2012). Collaboration Across Boundaries: Insights and Tips from Federal Senior Executives. . 50. IBM Center for Business of Government .

Bingham, L. B., O'Leary, R. & Nabatchi, T. (2005). The New Governance: Practices and Processes for Stakeholder and Citizen Participation in the Work of Government. Public Administration Review, 65(5), 547-558.