Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew S. Mingus

Second Advisor

Dr. Ashlyn K. Kuersten

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert G. Kennedy


Public administrative theory, despite its reach into American life, lacks broad agreement about its field of inquiry, its underlying presuppositions, and its purpose. Theorists such as Herbert Storing, Stephen Bailey, Richard Stillman, David Hart, Vincent Ostrom, William Dunn, Bahman Fozouni, Mark Rutgers, Michael Harmon and others have observed and lamented these shortcomings. Without well-developed theory, the objectives of public administration are a moving target.

This project does not attempt to resolve this deficiency. Instead, it is intended to address a primary question pertaining to public administration's core principles: what is the nature of the human person? The line of argumentation is not that public administration theorists do not have an operative view of human nature. Rather, it is proposed that all theories of public administration begin with some assumptions about human beings which can be termed operational anthropologies.

No attempt is made to consider all possible aspects of human nature. Only two are examined: the classically defined virtues of prudence and justice. A definition of each is provided followed by an examination of the theories of Frederick Taylor, Herbert Simon, Frederick Mosher, Vincent Ostrom, and Amitai Etzioni. The goal is to determine what each author believes to be true of human nature as determined by an examination of their most prominent book.

The project ends with a call for additional research to be done into the major theorists' views of the human person. It also calls for those currently working in public administrative theory to clarify their anthropological assumptions as an important part of their theorizing.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access