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SPA Faculty Cited for Most Influential Articles

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Romzek, McCurdy, Cleary, Rosenbloom
From upper left, clockwise: Romzek, McCurdy, Rosenbloom, and Cleary

Three of the 75 most influential articles in the history of the journal Public Administration Review were published by faculty in the School of Public Affairs at American University.

“More than 3,500 articles have appeared in Public Administration Review since its inception in 1940, so being selected as one of the 75 most influential is a stellar accomplishment,” said Editor-in-Chief James Perry.

Dean Barbara Romzek and co-author Melvin Dubnick were cited for their 1987 article, “Accountability in the Public Sector: Lessons from the Challenger Tragedy.” Their analysis identified multiple types of public sector accountability that operate simultaneously for public officials and present challenges as they manage diverse and competing performance expectations. Although published over 25 years ago, the article continues to be among the top-ten most accessed articles of the journal.

Professor Howard McCurdy and Professor Emeritus Robert Cleary were chosen for their 1984 article, “Why Can’t We Resolve the Research Issue in Public Administration?” Their article analyzed doctoral dissertations and addressed the important question of the role of research in a field that values theory and practice. They argued for greater focus on importance, validity and impact for assessing doctoral dissertations.

Professor David Rosenbloom’s 1983 article, “Public Administrative Theory and the Separation of Powers,” analyzes three major perspectives of the academic field of public administration: managerial; political/public policy; and legal. Known as the “three perspectives approach” or the “competing perspectives model,” the article provides what many consider to be the dominant framework for studying contemporary public administration. It was the most cited article by scholars in the field from 1983 to 1985.

McCurdy, Romzek and Rosenbloom currently teach in the Department of Public Administration & Policy.

Vicky Wilkins, who will join the School of Public Affairs in July as associate dean for academic affairs, and Young-joo Lee of the University of Texas at Dallas co-authored a 2011 article that is one of the 75 most influential articles in the history of the journal Public Administration Review. In "More Similarities or More Differences? Comparing Public and Nonprofit Managers’ Job Motivations," they found that managers who value advancement opportunities, a pension and a retirement plan, as well as the ability to serve the public in their jobs, are more likely to accept a job in the public sector. Managers who value family friendly policies and increased responsibility are more likely to accept a position in the nonprofit sector.

The articles were announced at the 75th anniversary conference of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) in Washington, D.C. in March. The full list is available at

A reception will be held to honor the 75 most influential articles and their authors at the 2015 ASPA National Conference in Chicago, Ill., in March 2015.