P07 Spatial Public Administration

Corresponding chair

Dr. Hongmou Zhang, Assistant Professor, School of Government, Peking University, email: zhanghongmou@pku.edu.cn

Review group chair

Dr. Wenhui Yang, Assistant Professor, School of Government, Peking University


Dr. Tianyi Xiang, Assistant Professor, School of Government, Peking University


Manuel Castells once wrote, “People live in places, power rules through flows.” Nonetheless, the notions of space and spatial dynamics, although retaining their significance within various social sciences such as sociology, political science, urban and regional studies, have remained conspicuously overlooked within the realm of public administration research, as highlighted by Ventriss in 1994. Ventriss contended that “the saliency of linking space to both political theory and public administration is that public organizations, as agents of the state, play a central role in how space, as a social product, is managed and therefore must ultimately deal with the substantive implications of changing spatial arrangements as they affect the public’s social and political life.”

Diverging from the era of Castells’ and Ventriss’ writings during the 1980s and 1990s—a period characterized by the ascendancy of globalization and the intricate interplay between global and local forces—the preceding decade has witnessed a contrasting trend: one of isolationism. This phenomenon has exerted its influence in multifaceted and asymmetric ways, molding the landscape of national and local public administration.   

In this panel, we invite submissions that delve into both the theoretical and practical inquiries regarding the roles of space and spatialty in the field of public administration. The exploration can take two distinct avenues: one, examining how the concept of space influences and molds the practices of public administration, and two, investigating how public administration, in turn, shapes space at different scales, including local communal spaces, cities, regions, nation-states, and international areas.

We welcome submissions with a diverse range of research methodologies, encompassing both quantitative and qualitative approaches, including theoretical development, statistical analysis, spatial investigations, deductive reasoning, and simulation.

Overall, our aim in this panel is to advance public administration theories by spotlighting an often overlooked yet profoundly impactful element: space. By catalyzing discourse on the spatial aspects of public administration, our goal is not only to enrich the theoretical underpinnings of this discipline but also to serve as a conduit connecting public administration theories with broader domains within the realm of social sciences.


Hence, we encourage submissions that delve into the concept of “space” and “spatiality” within the realm of public administration. This includes exploration of 1) how space plays a pivotal role in, e.g., policy design, policy diffusion, policy learning, and the delivery of public services; and 2) studies that illuminate public administration’s influence on spatial dynamics. These dual processes can manifest across various spatial scales, ranging from the global level down to neighborhoods and local communities. In particular, we welcome research papers on, but not restricted to, the subsequent themes:

  1. How should space be conceptualized and theorized in public administration theories?
  2. How do spatial factors shape and reshape public administration and public policy at different geographical scales?
  3. How do spatial boundaries, such as administrative divisions, are related to public administration?
  4. The design of the spatial side of public policies
  5. The spatial consequences of public policies


  1. Ventriss, Curtis. “Public administration and the changing nature of space.” The American Review of Public Administration 24.1 (1994): 1-23.
  2. Goodsell, Charles T. “The concept of public space and its democratic manifestations.” The American Review of Public Administration 33.4 (2003): 361-383.
  3. Ramos, Alberto Guerreiro. “The new science of organizations: A reconceptualization of the wealth of nations.” (1981).
  4. Harvey, David. Social Justice and the City. University of Georgia Press, 2010