Introducing Notable Scholars’ Contributions to CPAR

Markie McBrayer, Huafang Li


In recent years, CPAR has published a wealth of novel contributions to the field of public administration. Indeed, the journal has provided a space wherein the scholarly community can question traditional theoretical and empirical wisdom, leading to fresh perspectives in the discipline. In this issue, we are happy to re-introduce CPAR articles focusing on public values, public participation, and managerial leadership authored by leading scholars. These crucial articles are particularly relevant as we enter an era where we question the norms of individuality and efficiency.  

To start, we first examine two groundbreaking pieces on public values. First, Yee, Wang, and Cooper examine how Confucian values affect neighborhood governance in China, finding that many organizers serving the Homeowners Associations (HOAs) prefer to “serve with purely ‘public’ motives and renounce ‘private’ ones…” (2018, p. 113). This is particularly noteworthy, given that these neighborhood associations are one of the first opportunities for self-governance in China. In fact, serving on HOAs was often framed more as a social responsibility or form of patriotism to the country, despite the fact that many HOAs and individual homeowner behavior tends to emphasize individuals and their property. Yee, Wang, and Cooper thus argue that the unique culture of Confucianism and its associated public-mindedness is dominant.

Relatedly, Rosenbloom (2017) looks beyond the efficiency frameworks that dominate both public administration scholarship and public policy discussions. Specifically, he traces how the public value of efficiency tracks with the establishment of the federal service, showing that efficiency has not always been the dominant public value. Beyond efficiency, other public values can include “prestige, social and political representativeness, nonpartisanship, presidential agency, congressional agency, and high performance” (p. 41). Ultimately, he calls for the field of both scholars and practitioners to broaden the public values employed, without a singular focus on efficiency, even encouraging more open and participatory government.

Seemingly answering Rosenbloom’s (2017) suggestion to look beyond efficiency, Rubin and Nicholson (2020) incisively examine participatory budgeting and its prevalence in the United States—a context in which participatory budgeting is largely understudied due to data constraints. They help fill this critical gap in the literature by detailing the patterns by which cities and sub-areas of cities adopted participatory budgeting. For those looking to gain a better understanding of participatory budgeting and its prevalence in the US, Rubin and Nicholson’s (2020) is a pivotal source of information, describing its adoption, details, and implementation of a variety of forms of funds, including community development block grants. This piece is rich in information for future scholarship.

In a similarly outstanding piece examining participation, Yang (2002) crafts a broader conceptualization of public participation. Traditionally, most scholarship conceives of public participation as citizen action or engagement, but Yang argues participation can be quite multidimensional. Specifically, he puts forward a political-social dimension and the authoritarian-individualistic dimension of citizen participation. This piece truly pushes the field’s definition and conceptualization of public participation, as well as how this might further community building.

Finally, in a groundbreaking study, Meier and O’Toole (2017) challenge the dominant theory that “isopraxis leadership”—here conceptualized as managerial optimism and confidence—affects performance outcomes. Thus far, in the literature, a consensus has yet to be reached about if and how isopraxis leadership affects performance. Using unique and more sophisticated empirical methods, Meier and O’Toole demonstrate that isopraxis leadership has no effect on performance, noting “Confident leaders appear to be echoing performance rather than influencing it” (2017, p. 56). The only circumstances when isopraxis leadership might be influential is when performance is already strong. Conversely, leadership style has no impact when organizational performance is poor.  

Ultimately, these pieces highlight the rich contributions of some of the top public administration scholars in the field. CPAR is proud to be the journal that provides space for challenging conventional theoretical and empirical practices, while simultaneously creating rich ground for future research.

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Meier, K. J., & Laurence J. O’Toole, J. (2017). Isopraxis Leadership: Leader Confidence, Managerial Strategy, and Organizational Performance. Chinese Public Administration Review, 8(1), 47–64.

Rosenbloom, D. H. (2017). Beyond Efficiency: Value Frameworks for Public Administration. Chinese Public Administration Review, 8(1), 37–46.

Rubin, M. M., & Nicholson, W. M. (2020). The People’s Voice, The People’s Choice: An Overview of Participatory Budgeting in the United States. Chinese Public Administration Review, 11(1), 25–45.

Yang, K. (2002). From Danwei Society to New Community Building: Opportunities and Challenges for Citizen Participation in Chinese Cities. Chinese Public Administration Review, 1(1), 65–82.

Yee, W.-H., Wang, W., & Cooper, T. L. (2018). Governing the Neighborhood with Confucian Ideas. Chinese Public Administration Review, 9(2),113–127.



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Chinese Public Administration Review (ISSN 1539-6754, Online ISSN 2573-1483)  is published by the School of Government, Sun Yat-sen University.