Tuesday, July 30, 2013


By Katerina Anestaki, PhD Candidate, Public Affairs
Since joining the faculty of EPPS and the department of Public Affairs in 2009, Assistant Professor Dr. Meghna Sabharwal has been very actively pursuing her research interests in human resource management, workforce diversity and high-skilled immigration among others.

Earlier this year, her book “Public Personnel Administration,” made its debut. Co-written with N. Joseph Cayer, Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, this comprehensive textbook will be useful for graduate programs.  In addition to exploring the field of human resources administration in the public sector, the authors particularly emphasize diversity and affirmative action.

Now Dr. Sabharwal has another book, “Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan” co-edited with Evan M. Berman, Professor of Public Management & Director of Internationalization School of Government Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to talk to her about her newest book.

Upon their meeting at the 2010 ASPA Conference (American Society for Public Administration), Dr. Sabharwal and Dr. Berman brought together their common interest in writing about public administration in South Asia. In their book, they address the status and challenges for public administration outside the American borders.

The two compiled the work of leading local scholars that enriches the current literature by shedding light on “that part of the world that works differently,” Dr. Sabharwal said. In view of the similarities between India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka, the editors provide a comprehensive analysis of the public administration settings in that area of the world.

Dr. Sabharwal specifically pointed out that “while public administration practice and education have become considerably professionalized in the last decade, a useful reference about public administration in these countries that is sufficiently in-depth and well-rounded, is lacking.”

Beyond the limits of the academic work of American scholars, Dr. Sabharwal highlights that the focal point of the book is to offer a local perspective and pave the way to further region-based comparative analyses. Countries in the South Asian region display similar historical, political and governance background and thus, the book becomes a useful tool for public administration specialists and practitioners interested in reforms, public service and bureaucracy in the Indian subcontinent.

Dr. Sabharwal indicated that when public administration books in such regions are written by U.S. scholars, they tend to miss the regional perspective and distinctive features. By following the imperatives and opportunities embedded in the new globalization era, Dr. Sabharwal also emphasizes the “freedom of information” in the countries mentioned in the book, a field where there is still room for greater progress and advancement.

Dr. Sabharwal underscores the efforts and editing challenges that she and Dr. Berman  encountered in their effort to meet the international expectations and publishing criteria. But she added that they were motivated by a desire to add to the content of public administration literature in South Asia.

Overall, the result has been very rewarding given the positive reviews, including a book review in the latest volume of Public Administration Review.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Study Focuses on Diversity in Public Administration

Understanding diversity and learning how to manage its complexity are perhaps among the most important challenges public administration schools are facing today in preparing future public leaders and practitioners to effectively manage a changing and diverse workforce, and to effectively serve an increasingly diverse citizenry. While a number of studies acknowledge the importance of incorporating diversity courses in Public Administration curricula, very few empirically examined the extent to which this effort has been realized.

A recent study by Dr. Meghna Sabharwal and two PhD students, Imane Hijal-Moghrabi and Marcene Royster was accepted for publication in Public Administration Quarterly. Their study builds on Hewins-Maroney and Williams’s (2007) observation that teaching diversity is not a missing component of public affairs education. However, unlike Hewins-Maroney and Williams' research that focuses mainly on observing course titles and catalog description of 50 National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) accredited schools, the present study employs content analysis to thoroughly examine the syllabi of core courses for the same 50 schools MPA programs in order to assess the extent to which Hewins-Maroney and Williams' findings still hold if the unit of analysis is changed.

The overall findings are disappointing and do not seem to confirm those of Hewins-Maroney and Williams, suggesting that diversity and its various dimensions appears to be a missing component of the MPA curriculum. Women faculty members are significantly more likely than their male colleagues to include topics that relate to gender and race in their syllabi, and  master’s level institutions are more likely to incorporate gender and race/ethnicity related topics in their curriculum when compared with research universities.

The implications of this study are enormous given that public administration programs across the nation act as a training ground for future workforce and serve as an engine of social growth and development. Failing to incorporate diversity-related issues in our curricula implies that schools of public administration are not doing a good job in achieving their mission. Thus, identifying and bridging gaps in the MPA curriculum are essential if our programs are to prepare future leaders and public servants to their new roles. Otherwise, we might be promoting a curriculum that no longer serves the needs of our changing societies and organizations.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Welcome to Our Blog!


The UT Dallas Department of Public Affairs and Sociology has created this blog with the goal of keeping our students informed on the latest departmental news and events. Future posts may include information on:

·        Upcoming events
o   Visiting scholars
o   Student and faculty presentations
o   Dissertation defenses
o   Workshops
o   Departmental gatherings

·        Student opportunities
o   TA/RA positions
o   Upcoming conferences
o   Calls for papers

·        Student and faculty research projects

Check back often to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in PA and Sociology!