PAT-Net Graduate Student Workshop 2011:

“Writing Theory in a Technicist Field”

The dominant orientation of the field of public administration is often described as “technicist.” The sociologist Manfred Stanley described technicism as “a new mode of discourse which equates the humanly possible with the technologically available and defines any deviation from this equation as useless utopianism.” The technicist orientation poses challenges for scholars undertaking critical and theoretical research because approaches that interrogate the given reality are not easily accepted and do not appear to provide obvious instrumental “utility” for administrative practice. This workshop will examine these challenges by exploring several important intellectual and practical questions for theorists in public administration, such as:

  • Why should we be concerned about the dominance of the technicist attitude in a democratic society?
  • As researchers doing theory, how can we confront and cope with technicism and advance theoretical and critical scholarship?
  • As teachers, how can we effectively engage students with theoretical and critical materials?

The workshop will include presentations by the three faculty coordinators and discussion by and among student participants. Key readings will be provided as a focal point of discussion. The faculty coordinators are: Dr. Richard Box, University of Nebraska at Omaha (workshop organizer); Dr. Thomas Catlaw, Arizona State University; Dr. Jennifer Eagan, California State University East Bay.

Space is limited & reserved on first-come-first serve basis. If interested, please contact Mohamad G. Alkadry at

Funding Assistance for Students

Funding assistance will be available to a limited number of students. Apply by March 1, 2011 by sending a 1-page letter describing your interest in PA theory to: Mohamad G. Alkadry at Scholarship recipients will be asked to submit a brief written reflection on their conference experience, for possible publication in Administrative Theory & Praxis. To sponsor the conference & make additional scholarships available, contact:

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