Ph.D., Northwestern University
Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Public Policy Design and Implementation, Public Involvement Processes, Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation, Citizen and Stakeholder Surveys, Urban Governance.
With five books and more than seventy articles in print, John Thomas is known internationally for his research on public management and public policy. His most recent book, Leading as a Public-Minded Manager: People, Politics, Purpose (Irvine, CA: Melvin & Leigh Publishers, 2020), details a skill-based approach to being an effective managerial leader in the public realm—someone who leads and manages with a sense of stewardship for those with whom they work and the larger societal purposes they seek. The book has drawn praise for “combining real-life examples and an encyclopedic knowledge of research to offer practical and insightful advice relevant for public managers at any level” (Donald Moynihan, McCourt Chair of Public Policy, Georgetown University). He holds the Michael and Enid Mescon Endowed Chair.
Thomas has also conducted extensive research on how citizens connect with their governments and how those connections can be improved. In an earlier book, Citizen, Customer, Partner: Engaging the Public in Public Management (Routledge, 2012), Thomas summarized that research and detailed guidelines for when and how the public should be integrated into the practice of public administration. Citizen, Customer, Partner won the award for the Best Book in Public Administration from the Section on Public Administration Research of the American Society of Public Administration in 2013.
Thomas has provided applied research and training on leadership, public involvement, citizen surveys, and performance measurement for state and local governments and nonprofit agencies in Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. His research has appeared in Public Administration Review, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Administration & Society, Urban Affairs Review, and Public Performance and Management Review, among other journals. He served for 30 years as Editor of the American Review of Public Administration, one of the elite journals in public administration.
Since 2012, Thomas has served as Director of Master’s Programs for the Department of Public Management and Policy after chairing the department from 1993-2001. He served previously as Director of the L.P. Cookingham Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City from 1987-1993.