Strategies for Governing: Reinventing Public Administration for a Dangerous Century has received the 2021 book award from the Section on Public Administration Research of the American Society for Public Administration. The Committee’s statement: “This book challenges researchers and practitioners in the field to contemplate how we can ‘recover the fundamentals of government,’ and addresses the urgent and fundamental issues we are facing today. The book takes a thoughtful interdisciplinary approach, drawing on public administration history and theory, administrative process development in political science, fragile states research in international relations, and institutional design, presenting an expansive view of the capacities and new directions for public administration as a field of research, teaching, and practice. The nomination letter by ASPA Past President Chester Newland notes this distinctive quality of the book and emphasizes that in light of the ‘currently urgent realities of the field, the analysis is certain to be a lasting contribution.'” More comments and reviews on the book here.
In its October 2020 issue, ACRL’s Choice Magazine recommends Strategies for Governing: Reinventing Public Administration for a Dangerous Century (Cornell University Press, 2019). From the review: “Is it time for public administration to broaden its vision? Roberts (Univ. of Mass., Amherst) puts forth the provocative argument that the field has narrowed to a public management approach centered on processes within administrative states, and he advocates for public administration to embrace a global perspective and add country-level analysis. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.”
With Professor Bill Resh, I’m c-editing a special issue of Perspectives on Public Management and Governance on the connections between public administration, human rights and democracy. See the call for paper abstracts. Deadline for submissions is January 7, 2022.
Here’s the blurb for Superstates: Empires of the Twenty-First Century, forthcoming from Polity in late 2022:
In this century, the world will conduct an extraordinary experiment in government. In 2050, forty percent of the planet’s population will live in just four places: India, China, the European Union, and the United States. These are superstates — polities that are distinguished from normal countries by expansiveness, population, diversity, and complexity.
How should superstates be governed? What must their leaders do to hold these immense polities together in the face of extraordinary strains and shocks? Alasdair Roberts looks to history for answers. Superstates, he contends, wrestle with the same problems of leadership, control and purpose that plagued empires for centuries. But they also bear heavier burdens than empires — including the obligation to improve life for ordinary people and respect human rights.
One axiom of history was that empires always died. Size and complexity led to fragility, and imperial rulers improvised constantly to put off the day of reckoning. Leaders of superstates are doing the same today, pursuing radically different strategies for governing at scale that have profound implications for democracy and human rights. History shows that there are ways to govern these sprawling and diverse polities well. But this requires a different way of thinking about the art and methods of statecraft.
I will serve as a member of the accreditation board of the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration starting in January 2022.
Teaching Public Administration has published a review by Jim Perry of my book Strategies for Governing (Cornell University Press). Perry says: “This is a thought-provoking book, one that deserves the attention of everyone in the field of public administration. It comes at an important time, early in what Roberts calls a ‘dangerous century’ and others have termed an ‘era of estrangement.’ I hope the ideas in the book help change the way we think about public administration, re-establishing a macro approach to complement the current dominance of the public management approach.” Read the review.