Virtual Special Issue – Phenomenology in Public Administration

For our latest issue (September 2018), we explored anew the concept of phenomenology in public administration. Led by special issue editor Dr. Nicholas Zingale, articles this month remind us of the strong intellectual foundations of phenomenology in the field and the boundless applications of it in contemporary study and practice. Within those pages some key articles were mentioned, and this virtual special issue illuminates those to better connect readers with the concept and application of phenomenology.

First, Hummel’s piece in Dialogue (1979), this journal’s predecessor, sets up the theoretical underpinnings of phenomenology. It is from these words that many scholars have heeded his advice to understand lived experiences of practitioners in the field and even ourselves as academic practitioners. In a lifetime of other scholarship in ATP and elsewhere, Hummel then expanded his thinking by showing the application of phenomenology at work – and how we as scholars can better understand and appreciate stories managers tell.

Next, Morcol (2005) uses phenomenology to understand knowledge in place within public administration. His piece is an artful blend of so-called hard sciences with our ability to know what is happening on the ground. In their article, Zingale and Hummel (2008) expand the concept even further to dissect terror, terrorism, and the controlling mechanisms of both. Their article shows once again how we can use a phenomenological lens to understand many administrative policies and practices – to show how that affect human beings. Zingale and Piccorelli (2012) again use a phenomenological lens to dissect if humans have freedom or are free – a discussion worth examining again in today’s political climate.

In the latest issue, Zingale, Cook and Mazanec (2018) argue that public administrators need to adopt hermeneutic thinking to stay relevant in a changing economy. In other words, this requires administrators to appreciate lived experiences of the publics they serve. Samanta (2018) uses the case of the Cuyahoga River in Ohio to understand the role hermeneutics can play in fostering deliberative, involved governance that meaningfully relies on stakeholder debate, discussion, and dialogue. 

We hope readers find these articles, and the latest special issue, informative and we encourage submissions to the journal about this growing topic.

Contributing Article:
Hummel, R. (1979). On the Human Condition: Being in the Company of Others. Dialogue. Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 11-16.