History of Public Administration

By Dr. Michael Popejoy


I have been fascinated with reading history since I was in the 8th grade. History was the one thing that I cared about (other than girls) and worked hard at during that particularly traumatic year in middle school. Here I am 20 years post doctorate and I retain that fascination today (history, not girls – the latter have been replaced by a wife).

You might ask, if you care to, why did I do a Ph.D. in public administration and not History? Well, I applied for an M.A. and the History department at the University of Central Florida would not accept me into the program. I was both disappointed and dejected so I went off to do other things for years. I was like a derailed roller coaster for a while.

Then I found myself working in health care administration and did an M.B.A. to advance that career while reading history whenever I could pry enough money out of my wife to buy books. After eight kids, my book budget was pretty thin. Today, those kids are grown and gone and I am playing catch up. So far, 9000 books and counting on every available subject but what attracts me first at the book stores is the History department; and closely related, biographies of historical people.

Now, why this blog? When I was taking Scope and Theory under Dr. Thomas D. Lynch at Florida Atlantic University, I found a rich PAcloudconnection between Public Administration as I was learning it and History as I had been reading it since the 8th grade. Was there something to this? I am a born polymath so I find interconnectedness in disciplines and it is those networks that attracts me the most. Of course, I have known for many years that we live in a disciplinary niche world and polymaths are not much respected and there are very few opportunities for cross walk studies. However, if we begin a discourse on the issue of History and Public Administration, maybe something can develop. As of today, only a smattering of historical work has been published since Leonard D. White’s three books that addressed the history of public administration; at least indirectly. Could a blog on this subject spark something interesting?

Well maybe. So, here I am taking the risk in opening a dialog on History and Public Administration and I am very curious about what comments may develop.

One of the things I will be doing to stimulate discussion is to begin to write about current books that I am reading and those of you that may also be reading any of these books may have comments on the potential impact on our knowledge of public administration as it existed then, and as it exists today; and maybe what we can expect tomorrow.

One aspect of the blog is that it would help us explore the potential of creating a journal in this field and is there a book market as well in the study of History and Public Administration. I hope that many of you will join in here and share your thoughts so we all can get a grasp as to the level and depth of interest among our colleagues. Tell me what you think in the comments below.


8 thoughts on “History of Public Administration

  1. connecting the dots/ links between history and public administration is just great.However,the prompting question is what will the future public administration be like? or will it still exist or evolute into something else to meet the need of the technologically age as we move into the twenty second century.


  2. What a great idea! Excited to read more. I’ve long been interested in the intersection between history and public administration. Maybe that’s why I decided to go with a MA in history and MPA. Looking forward to this blog.


  3. Fascinating! I think the cross-section between history and public administration is an untapped goldmine for discussion. I’ve long been interested in both (perhaps that’s why I have a MA in medieval history and a MPA) – in any case, excited to see this blog up and running


  4. Studying the Middle East administrations I could easily argue that the historic development of the administration is crucial for understanding of the present day administration. Probably it is the same in other parts of the world as well.
    Interesting topic for sure.


  5. Do you think with blacks having black history month and the NAACP and many black only college’s and black only beauty pageants that if white’s were to do so we would be called racist?!


  6. Thank you, Caroline; I hope that you will find a lot of interesting comments here over time. II have been thinking about a journal and potential books in this subdiscipline for a long time; so, maybe…


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