John M. Bryson Receives the 2020 John Gaus Award

The John Gaus Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration.  The Gaus Lecture will be held on Friday, September 11, 2020 at 4:30pm MDT as part of the virtual APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition.

John M. Bryson is McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.  He works in the areas of leadership, strategic management, collaboration, and the design of engagement processes.  He wrote Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, 5th Edition (John Wiley, 2018), and co-wrote with Barbara C. Crosby Leadership for the Common Good, 2nd Edition (Jossey-Bass, 2005).  Dr. Bryson is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and has received lifetime scholarly achievement awards from the American Society for Public Administration (2011), Public Management Research Association (2018), and Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management (2019).

Citation from the Award Committee:

Professor Bryson’s “lifetime of exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration” has not only made innovative, impressive and indelible scholarly contributions to the study and practice of political science and public administration, and stimulated and advanced scholarship in public administration, but has inspired practice in impactful and meaningful ways.

Professor Bryson’s scholarly contributions bridge and integrate our aspirations for democratic inclusion and representation with organizational capacity building, sustainability, and flexibility to translate aspirations into action.  In her nomination letter for Professor Bryson, supported by the leadership and management faculty of the Humphrey School, Dean Laura Bloomberg highlights the five major areas of scholarship that Professor Bryson has significantly shaped and impacted over his career: “Strategic planning and management of public and nonprofit organizations; leadership and policy change, especially in shared-power, multi-sector, no-one-wholly-in-charge situations; collaboration, and especially cross-sector collaboration; stakeholder identification, analysis, and management; and public value and public values.”  Motivated to understand, “How … people in government and nonprofit settings figure out what they think they ought to want and how to get it,” and how to “help” them do so, Professor Bryson’s work demonstrates that is not enough to lead strategically, across boundaries, sectors and jurisdictions, and to take action collaboratively with multiple stakeholders, but that service in the public and nonprofit sectors, in particular, requires continuous questioning and grappling with the creation of public value – what is being created, why, how and toward what end? – in highly contested spaces where the opportunity for meaningful participation can result in the most impactful outcomes.  From the award winning five-edition book ​Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, ​to the award winning ​Leadership for the Common Good, ​co-authored with Barbara Crosby, to the most downloaded paper in the ​International Public Management Journal since its 2009 publication,  “Understanding Strategic Planning and the Formulation and Implementation of Strategic Plans as a Way of Knowing: The Contributions of Actor-Network Theory,” Professor Bryson’s work continuously advances theory with a clarity of context and circumstances, embedded in the iterative effort to manifest public value, that is informed by years of applying his work to the governing challenges in Minnesota, North America, and across the globe.  Books and journal articles abound, each with a quality of purpose and insight that is widely recognized through nearly 22,000 citations and awards too numerous to list.

Receipt of the John Gaus Award follows a number of additional distinguished awards in the fields of public administration and political science, including the 2019 Keith Provan Award (jointly with Barbara C. Crosby) from the Academy of Management, the 2018 H. George Frederickson Award from the Public Management Research Association, the 2011 Dwight Waldo Award from the American Society for Public Administration, and the 2008 Charles H. Levine Memorial Award given jointly by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration and the American Society for Public Administration, among others

In a year of pandemic and protest, of deep divisions and distrust, where technology connects us but a shared vision eludes us, Professor Bryson’s work provides the framework and the tools for doing the hard work of tackling our problems one step at a time, building consensus around thoughtful solutions, and seeing the value of difficult collaboration as the fabric of our democracy.  The John Gaus Award and Lectureship Committee is delighted to recognize a scholar for our times and all times, Professor John M. Bryson.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Anne Khademian (chair), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Claudia N. Avellaneda, Indiana University; and Anthony Bertelli, Pennsylvania State University/Bocconi University.