Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

The Rich Diversity of the Public Administration Journals: Departments and Institutional Settings, Part 2

Academic journal article Public Administration Quarterly

The Rich Diversity of the Public Administration Journals: Departments and Institutional Settings, Part 2

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article is to reflect on the literary diversity of public administration from the perspective of key journals. The findings should help administrators define public administration and interpret its interdisciplinary character. As such, the research continues the research agenda presented in "The Rich Diversity of the Public Administration Journals: Institutions and their Authors," of the previous issue of this journal.

To set up the analysis, the research question is presented. This discussion is followed by an explanation of the method and several sources and types of data used in the analysis. The evidence characterizes the contemporary authors who have published material in the leading referred public administration journals, hence, defining the current legacy of public administration. Third, the question is reflected on in detail, followed by the conclusion.


In this study we are trying to find out the degree to which individual journals reflect the breadth of contemporary research. If public administrators are truly reaching out to use methods and theories of the social sciences and if they are contributing to the growth of social science, then it might be reasonable to expect them to publish somewhat frequently in the host of journals that overlap or "boundary span" into at least a few targeted areas of the social sciences, including political science, public policy, and business. If the reach is little more than arm's length, then we can expect public administration scholars to publish in the "core" public administration journals, but little else. By examining the presence of literature authored by public administrators, the findings suggest that, if public administrators have grasped the rigors of method and the theoretical dispositions of social science, then their use of it is rather limited.

To address the question further, a proxy measure, albeit a very important measure, will be used to assess the degree to which journals appear to be "captured" or significantly influenced by specific institutions or by types of institutions. Capture exists, in the present content, when several of the articles in any one journal come predominantly from authors at one institution or type of institution. Less capture should indicate that a journal is more open to various methods of analysis and contending points of view. The predominance may be so small as to be insignificant, indicating that the journal may publish a potpourri of views and perspectives on a given issue. This we would expect to be true of the most general public administration journals which, by their nature, are substantively and methodologically open.

Where there is more capture, the less likely a journal may be entertaining contending methods and points of view on relevant issues. Capture may be most prevalent in specialized journals and relatively new journals. Specialized journals, by virtue of their mission, may be naturally most appealing to institutions whose niche matches that mission. Policy journals, for instance, may be dominated by researchers from APPAM (the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. This type of capture is likely to be somewhat permanent. New journals, by virtue of trying to survive and increase circulation, may be captured by their own institutional home. Such capture, however, is likely to be temporary. To the degree that capture exists, for better or for worse, the more opportunities a given few have to use select outlets to define the knowledge about public administration and structuring the research questions to be examined by future generations.


As a follow-up to "Rich Diversity of the Public Administration Journals: Institutions and Their Authors," the method used here follows that exactly used in that study.


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