Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Affairs

First Advisor's Name

Allan Rosenbaum

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Milena Neshkova

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Keith Revell

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Richard Tardanico

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Decision-making, culture, change, equity, inclusion

Date of Defense



This dissertation is a study of challenges to the development of democratic equity and inclusion in administration. It examines Woodrow Wilson’s and the 1968 Minnowbrook Conference participants’ thoughts about public administration in environments of political constraint and crisis. The study consists of four essays. Essay 1 is an overview of Wilson’s concerns for the development of administration and thoughts on a prescribed role for the study. Essay 2 presents an overview of the Minnowbrook Conference concerns, including the traditional political rationality. Essay 3 surveys contemporary equity and inclusion literature and assesses the linkages to the ideas of Wilson and the Minnowbrook Conference. Essay 4 examines the thoughts that describe the reasons for the slow onset of the racial equity research agenda. The dissertation posits a link between the Wilson and Minnowbrook concerns and the external and internal constraints affecting the discipline. It also provides a set of guidelines on how the field can address the democratic equity and inclusion issues through training, theory, and practice.

Key points of the study are, first, Wilson (1887) points to the relevance of pre-enlightenment rationality, focus on Constitutional issues, and political neglect of administrative development. Second, Wilson lists economic, political, and social factors of racial inequity and exclusion. As such, his critical theory sets a normative development goal for the PA field to achieve. Third, the Minnowbrook Conference ideas are a second step toward addressing equity and inclusion issues and helping overcome internal constraints faced by the field. Fourth, recent PA scholarship provides evidence that the discipline is taking a third step toward operationalizing social equity and inclusion. Thus, this dissertation provides a descriptive model that traces the challenges to achieving culture change. Normatively, this work suggests a potential for a policy environment in which PA scholars and practitioners feel free to raise and address social equity issues.






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