Leisha DeHart-Davis wins the 2024 Herbert Simon Award

The School of Government extends its congratulations to faculty member Leisha DeHart-Davis upon her receipt of the 2024 Herbert Simon Award. Given annually by the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA), this award recognizes leading scholars who made significant contributions to the scientific study of bureaucracy. Submissions are considered by a committee of the Midwest Caucus for Public Administration.

DeHart-Davis was recognized by the organization for the depth and breadth of her intellectual contributions to the field. In awarding her the honor, the committee praised DeHart-Davis’s research:

“Professor DeHart-Davis’s work on bureaucratic rules, particularly her theoretical contribution on green tape, bridges three important traditions in studying bureaucracy and public organizations: the organizational/institutional perspective, the individual perspective, and the behavioral/psychological perspective. Her work also exemplifies first-rate scholarship that is rigorous, normatively important, and has a far-reaching influence. From a broader perspective, Professor DeHart-Davis’s research takes seriously both the pros and cons of organizational rules and their impact on bureaucratic performance. Her research does an exceptional job of portraying bureaucracy as important and effective, but also urges the field to continue examining the factors that contribute to its significance to democratic governance.”

UNC MPA Program Director Willow Jacobson similarly celebrated her colleague’s expertise in the field, commending DeHart-Davis for embodying the mission of the School to connect theory with practice in the public sphere.

“I extend my congratulations on this well-deserved recognition for DeHart-Davis. Her work on effective public sector organizational structure is not only important and timely, but valuable to both academics and scholars alike. Having impactful scholars in our classrooms enriches the experiences of students, colleagues, and UNC as a whole.”

DeHart-Davis will accept the award and deliver the annual Simon Lecture at the MPSA conference in April 2024. Her topic will be “Speaking Up for Good: The Role of Public Employee Voice in Democratic Governance.”

Leisha DeHart-Davis is a professor of public administration and government at the School of Government. Her applied research focuses on workplace climate in local government organizations. DeHart-Davis's academic research addresses public sector organizational behavior, most recently, employee voice, organizational structure, and citizen and workplace incivility. 

DeHart-Davis founded the Local Government Workplaces Initiative (LGWI) in 2015 and serves as its director. LGWI is a research-based program that seeks to improve local government workplaces by conducting workplace climate assessments in cities and counties.

DeHart-Davis and her team conduct employee surveys, focus groups, and interviews, using this data to advise local governments on workplace improvements and to publish in the academic public management field. LGWI data has contributed to nine publications in peer-reviewed journals over the past five years on topics ranging from organizational silence to organizational social capital to diversity climate.