"Demons, Spirits, and Elephants: Reflections on the Failure of Public Administration Theory." Prepared for delivery at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Atlanta Hilton and Towers and Atlanta Marriott Marquis, September 2-5, 1999. Copyright by the American Political Science Association



Abstract: For the past half-century, those defining the field of Public Administration in their role as its leading "theorists" have been preoccupied with defending the enterprise against the evils of value-neutral logical positivism. This polemical review of that period focuses on the Simon-Waldo debate that ultimately leads the field to adopt a "professional" identity rather than seek disciplinary status among the social sciences. A survey of recent works by the field's intellectual leaders and "gatekeepers" demonstrates that the anti-positivist obsession continues, oblivious to significant developments in the social sciences. The paper ends with a call for Public Administrationists to engage in the political and paradigmatic upheavals required to shift the field toward a disciplinary stance.