P01 Advancing the Core Technologies of Government Organizations by Embracing Social Equity (PMRA)

Panel Chair

Rosemary O'Leary, Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas. oleary@ku.edu


The purpose of this panel is to present research on government organizations, policies, and programs whose “core technologies” were advanced by embracing social equity. We use the definition of social equity provided by the H. George Frederickson Center for Social Equity (2023): “Social equity is the fair, just and equitable management of all institutions serving the public directly or by contract, and the fair and equitable distribution of public services, and implementation of public policy, and the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the formation of public policy.” https://aspanet.org/ASPA/ASPA/About-ASPA/Social-Equity-Center/HGF-Home.aspx We use the classic organization theory/management definition of core technology as the work process that is directly related to the organization's mission (Thompson 1967). Common examples include teaching and learning in an academic program, medical services in a health organization, and pollution control in an environmental agency.

While much has been written about social equity (see for example, de la Porte et al 2022, Frederickson 1990, 2005, 2015; Glaser et al 2011; Gooden et al 2019, Guy and McCandless 2012, 2020; Riccucci 2009, 2019; Riccucci and Van Ryzin 2017; and Rosenbloom 2005, 2020) and thousands of articles have been written since Jim Thompson published his classic work Organizations in Action in 1967, a unique contribution of this panel will be to bring the two streams of theories together.

Diverse theoretical lenses are encouraged. All sources of data are welcome including interviews, 

surveys, participant observation, archival materials; organization reports, and government statistics. Rigorous methodologies are expected (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, mixed).

Panel participants will present "best results" programs at the local, regional and national government levels around the world that embraced exemplary inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility practices while improving the core technology of public organizations. Some programs will be hybrid partnerships across government levels and/or with the private sector, squarely addressing the theme of the 2024 IRSPM conference.

Examples include (but in no way are limited to) the following:

  • The creation of a program for workplace fairness, equity, diversity, and inclusion at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that resulted in lowering turnover among employees.
  • The Finnish education system that improved through systemic attention to social justice.
  • The declaration of Racism as a “Public Health Crisis” in King County, Washington and the implementation of programs that yielded measurable improvements in public health.

Contributions to the field of Public Management: One goal of this panel is to catalyze a deeper understanding of the political, managerial, economic, and leadership hurdles that must be jumped in order to weave together successful social equity practices while enhancing an organization’s core technology. A second goal of this panel is to glean key lessons learned across rigorous research efforts to highlight objective, evidence-based suggestions for measuring the social equity effectiveness of government programs.