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Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009

James L. Perry

Distinguished Professor

Chancellor's Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1985
B.A., University of Chicago, 1970
M.P.A., Syracuse University, 1972
Ph.D., Syracuse University, 1974

James Perry has played a vital role in making the field of public administration what it is today. "Professor Perry has been part of a contingent of scholars that has moved public administration from an applied field with little scholarly research to a field that uses rigorous social science methods to determine how public programs operate," said Kenneth J. Meier, distinguished professor and Charles H. Gregory Chair in liberal arts at Texas A&M University. "Perry himself has been the individual who is most responsible for the scholarly development of human resources administration."

James L. Perry

James L. Perry

Print-Quality Photo

Perry is an innovator in the study of public management and public personnel administration, and an international authority in his field. A recent citation review identified him as the sixteenth-most-frequently cited scholar in public policy, public administration and public law from 1985 to 2005.

"There is no question that Professor Perry is one of the most distinguished scholars in his field," said Jone L. Pearce, professor of organization and management at the University of California, Irvine.

Colleagues praise Perry for his ability to view common problems in new and original ways.

"He has often been among the first in our field to spot emerging trends and to offer conceptual and theoretical frameworks suitable for testing and refining in future research agendas," said Robert F. Durant, professor of public administration and policy at American University. "He has then led the way in empirically exploring these topics."

In the area of personnel and human resources, Perry is most well-known for developing the "public service motivation" construct, which aims to define and measure motivation among government employees, with particular emphasis on proposals for incentive-based pay. More than 30 journal articles by a variety of scholars have elaborated on the construct, which has influenced the study and practice of human resource management in public service both in the United States and internationally.

In addition to receiving numerous best paper awards for his articles and conference papers as well as a best book award, Perry has received the major awards bestowed by organizations in the public administration discipline.

He was one of the first scholars to receive the two awards given jointly by the American Society for Public Administration and the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)—the Distinguished Research Award and the Charles H. Levine Memorial Award for Excellence in Public Administration. He also has received the Yoder-Heneman Personnel Research Award for his innovative research on performance pay and the Paul P. Van Riper Award for Excellence and Service. He was the 2008 recipient of the Dwight Waldo Award for his outstanding contributions to professional literature. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and of NASPAA, and he has been a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in South Korea and a senior postdoctoral fellow in Belgium.

Perry also is the author or editor of nine books, including two volumes of the Handbook of Public Administration. He has authored or co-authored more than 140 articles and book chapters, and his research has been published in leading journals. In addition, he serves on several editorial boards and was the editor in chief of the Journal of Public Affairs Education from 1998 to 2000.

Perry is currently engaged in a major research effort concerning nonprofit organizations that deliver public services. This research agenda addresses major issues in public administration, such as what it means to be a citizen in a contemporary democracy and how the act of volunteering relates to citizenship for both the volunteer and the people being served.

"It promises to be the most significant work of Perry's career," Meier said, "since it unites his rigorous approach to research with major normative questions of public administration in regard to democracy."