2018 Public Administration Theory Network Annual Conference

Cleveland, OH | May 31-June 3, 2018


Creativity in the Face Of Uncertainty: PA Theory as a Generative Force


Call for Proposals


Program Information:

The deadline for submission of proposals is November 15th, 2017. Proposals will be evaluated by the conference program committee and proposers will be notified of the committee’s decisions via email by early spring. Email your proposals to patnet2018@gmail.com,

Questions about program substance or proposals for panels, papers, and roundtables should be addressed to the Program Committee Chair, Dr. Patricia Shields, patnet2018@gmail.com.


Pre-Conference Workshop
A pre-conference workshop for doctoral students will be held on Thursday May 31 from 1-5 pm. Facilitated by Thomas Catlaw (Arizona State University) and Laura Hand (University of North Dakota), the workshop will provide a forum for students to discuss and debate important intellectual problems in contemporary public administration. Additional details on the workshop will be provided but students should express interest in participating in the workshop at the time that they submit their conference proposals.


Panels proposals should include:

  • A brief description of the panel and its relationship to the conference theme, not to exceed 150 words in length.
  • An abstract of each participant’s proposed paper, not to exceed 150 words in length and including title, participant’s name, organizational affiliation, and e-mail address.
  • Names, organizational affiliations, and e-mail addresses for the convener and moderator/ discussant.
  • In order to ensure time for discussion, the preferred panel includes 3 papers and a discussant or 4 papers and a moderator.

Breakfast roundtable discussion proposals should include:

  • A brief description of the roundtable and its relationship to the conference theme, not to exceed 150 words in length
  • Listing of each participant, including participant’s name, organizational affiliation, and e-mail address.
  • Names, organizational affiliations, and e-mail addresses for the conveners and moderators.

Individual Papers Proposals should include:

  • Title of paper.
  • Name(s) of author(s), organizational affiliations(s) and e-mail address(es).

An abstract not to exceed 150 words in length, which describes the substance of the paper and 
relation to conference theme.


On the eve of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Public Administration Theory Network, we are pleased to announce its call for proposals for the 2018 annual conference, to be held May 31st – June 3rd in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cleveland’s enduring public sphere and sustained effort in responding to competing social forces give it a unique identity.  This call for proposals is inspired by multi-sector ventures in the city like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Rock and roll, as both a genre of music and as an experience, signifies creativity in the face of uncertainty.  It captured the essence of the times while pushing at the edges of the disruptive, frightening, and unforeseen.   According to the popular author, Nora Roberts, rock and roll is “restless and rude, it’s defiant and daring. It’s a fist shaken at age.” At the same time, we must recognize that in many respects underpinning rock and roll’s development is the co-optation, appropriation, and commodification of the cultural work of African American musicians and artists. Today this musical genre extends beyond the physical boundaries of the United States, broadly applicable to the international experience.

The arc of public administration theory displays a similar complexity. PA theory was a vital force in vanquishing the hegemony of positivism and, has been a stalwart force advancing positive social change—giving voice to marginalized perspectives and groups while persistently calling into question prevailing organizational and political practices and discourses. Yet PA theory, like art, is also ensnared by institutions of domination, complicit in the reproduction of many of the inequalities and injustices it seeks to overcome.  As we contemplate the existential crisis facing the field and even nation states, as the challenges facing mankind spill beyond established boundaries, let us imagine and consider public administration theory as a dynamic, renewing force at the center of dialogue.

This year’s 2018 meeting in Cleveland examines these tensions of transformation and domination, of engagement and appropriation in these areas central to public administration praxis such as: 1) democratic leadership for innovative change, 2) aesthetics, art, and music as cultural vanguards, 3) social justice and public administration as a means of and venue for social and political rectification, and 4) theory as both a creative and stabilizing or transcending and limiting force.

Within these broad topics, subthemes for the 2018 conference may include but are not limited to:

  • Thinking creatively about democracy, leadership, administrative systems, and/or pedagogy
  • Energizing social justice as the beat of social change
  • Globalized discussions of movements of public administration
  • Income inequality as a current and future challenge
  • Finding/refining PA’s diverse beat
  • Generational change as a source of uncertainty and creativity in PA
  • International cross pollination in PA theory
  • Art, music, and popular culture as a stimulus for PA theory, practice and experience
  • Locating the intersection of PA theory, skills and methods
  • Uncovering unacknowledged traditions within and beyond public administration
  • Finding the defiant and daring in public administration