Minnowbrook III (2008)

Topical Issues Addressed At The Third Minnowbrook Conference

The Third Minnowbrook Conference (also known as Minnowbrook III), took place at the Minnowbrook Conference Center in the Adirondack Mountains, Syracuse University, New York, on September 3 – 7, 2008.

Minnowbrook III broadly deliberated on The Future of Public Administration, Public Management, and Public Service around the World.

It was attended by 56 conferees (participants) and the participation in it was more diverse than in previous Minnowbrook conferences in terms of race, gender and nationality.

It was coordinated and organized by Professor Rosemary O’LearyOpens in new window of Syracuse University, who organized the conference into two phases.

Phase one of the Conference, held from 3rd to 5th September 2008 at Syracuse University, stressed emphasis on concerns and future directions broadly representing the following range of focal areas:

The Minnowbrook III emphasized:

The second phase of the Conference, held from 5th to 7th September 2008, at Lake Placid, New York, was more of a traditional conference format, attended by two hundred and twenty (220) scholars and practitioners from thirteen (13) different countries — this group included at least thirty (30) veterans of either Minnowbrook IOpens in new window or Minnowbrook IIOpens in new window.

About three hundred (300) formal paper presentations on different fields of concern to public administration were made in Phase Two, eighty (80) proposals, out of these, were accepted for more detailed analysis.

By and large, the presentations pertained to the focal areas of concern identified in the Phase One deliberations.

The following are a range of questions addressed at the Phase Two conference:

  • How is the field of Public Administration different in 2008 from 1968 and 1988? What is Public Administration in 2008?
  • Can we draw important theoretical and empirical conclusions about the market-oriented New Public Management that now has a 30 year history?
  • Given the influx of scholars from many disciplines into Public Administration, is Public Administration closer or farther away from developing a core theoretical base?
  • How are new ideas about networked governance and collaborative public management changing the way we look at Public Administration, Public Management and Public Service? Are they changing the practice of Public Administration? Should they change what we teach in our programs?
  • How has globalization affected our understanding of the key challenges that face the study and practice of Public Administration, Public Management, and Public Service in the United States, the developed world, and developing and transitional countries?

Focal issues of governmental capacity and the place of government in the twenty-first century were discussed by scholars at the Minnowbrook III.

A perceived gap existed between public problems and government’s capability and capacity to address them. One theme that emerged was that scholars should rethink the role of government in view of the realities of 2008.

The first outcome of Minnowbrook III included fifty-six critiques of the field written by the new scholar participants and presented by them at the preconference workshop.

After these presentations, a professional facilitator led the group in a “Future Search” exercise, where the new scholars were asked to envision public administration in 2018.

Also articulated in the “Future Search” exercise was a desire by the fifty-six new scholars to contribute to practice.

The future, as represented by Minnowbrook III participants, clearly lies in a more global approach to thinking about institutions and the work of public administrators. — (The Future of Public Administration around the World: The Minnowbrook Conferences, as edited by Rosemary O'Leary, David M. Van Slyke, Soonhee Kim)