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Public Affairs professor assumes editorial leadership of prestigious public administration journal

Mary Feeney

ASU School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Mary Feeney is the new editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

November 21, 2018

A professor in the ASU School of Public Affairs will take over editing the field’s most prestigious journal in January. Mary Feeney will be the new editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. She assumes the position from Bradley Wright of the University of Georgia Department of Public Administration and Policy, who has edited the journal since October 2013.  

“The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory is the signature journal for the Public Management Research Association,” said Feeney. “Being selected as the editor is an honor and a privilege.”

Feeney is an associate professor and Lincoln Professor of Ethics in Public Affairs. She is also associate director of the ASU Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies. Her research focuses on public and nonprofit management, sector comparisons, and science and technology policy. She has been a member of the Public Management Research Association for more than 10 years. Feeney is currently the book review editor of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2015-January 2019) and has published seven papers in the journal. She currently serves on the PMRA leadership board and the JPART Board of Editors.

“My own experiences publishing and reviewing for the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and my active role at Public Management Research Association have prepared to me take on this important role in our research community,” said Feeney.

The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory describes its purpose as serving “as a bridge between public administration and public management scholarship on the one hand and public policy studies on the other.  Its multidisciplinary aim is to advance the organizational, administrative and policy sciences as they apply to government and governance.”

“Mary Feeney is emerging as one of the top scholars in the field of public administration bar none,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “Being selected as editor of the premier journal in the field is evidence of her recognition as a leader and one who is entrusted to shape the future of the discipline.”

The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory is published quarterly by Oxford University Press.

Stuart Bretschneider, a Foundation Professor of Organization Design and Public Administration at the School of Public Affairs, was one of the first editors of JPART, as the journal is called by its audience.

“I was editor of JPART from 1992-2000, starting just two years after the journal was launched,” said Bretschneider. “At that time the field had no strong 'academic'-oriented outlets.”

Submissions were significantly fewer than what they are today, Bretschneider said. 

“In many ways the role of helping authors to do better research complimented my and all faculty's role as teacher,” Bretschneider said. “ By the time I ended my term I felt proud that we had built a strong 'academic' journal focused on theory and testing of theory.”

Feeney sees her primary task as keeping the journal on the track it has been on, while pushing the journal and the field forward. She says that means publishing outstanding empirical work that contributes to public administration research and theory.

“I’ll be working with a talented group of associate editors to continue JPART’s success while addressing some of the growing challenges that affect academic journals,” said Feeney.

Feeney says those challenges include:

  • Processing an ever-growing number of manuscript submissions.
  • Designing processes to enable reviewers to focus on the content and contribution of the manuscripts they review.
  • Actively reducing bias at all stages of the submission, desk reject, reviewer assignment and decision process.
  • Diversifying the methods and theoretical approaches in the work published.
  • Developing scholarship not only for the journal but also for the field of public administration more broadly.

“The fact that Professor Feeney was selected after a highly competitive process to serve as the editor-in-chief signifies that she is a leading public management scholar of her generation,” said Don Siegel, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs. “As editor, she will be in a position to shape the field of public administration.”

Feeney plans to draw from her experience working in other research areas like science and technology policy and publishing in journals outside of the field of public administration. She hopes to guide public administration journals toward some of the best practices used in other fields.

“In preparation for taking on this role I have been researching editorial best practices in other fields and spending a lot of time listening to suggestions from people in our research community,” Feeney said. “I’m excited to be presented with new ideas and a great deal of support from my colleagues at ASU, PMRA and in the broader research community.

Feeney is appreciative of the strong support from her school and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Service, the highest-rated college at Arizona State University.

Bretschneider points to the significance of Feeney being selected as editor in another way. The former editor of JPART says it reflects well on the ASU School of Public Affairs, which ranked ninth in the last U.S. News & World Report rankings.  

"The selection of an editor is also a selection of an institution since the proposal for an editor typically requires institutional support," noted Bretschneider.  "The previous institutions to support editors included Syracuse, American, Wisconsin, University of Washington and Georgia, for example. All are top programs. Now ASU."

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