The University of Massachusetts Amherst


Governance broadly refers to how institutions and organizations use power and other resources to shape collective outcomes. At SPP, interest in governance spans a range of institutions and organizations, from municipalities and local nonprofits to states, corporations, national governments and international federations. SPP's commitment to effective governance has led to faculty expertise in two important subfields: e-government, or government use of information technologies to enhance citizen access, transparency and efficiency; and collaborative governance, including public-private partnerships and the use of multi-organizational arrangements to solve large-scale problems.


Several SPP core and elective courses address issues related to governance and administration in both the public and private spheres. Examples of these include:

  • Politics and the Policy Process (SPP)
  • Public Management (SPP)
  • Nonprofit Governance (SPP)
  • Globalization (SPP)
  • Organization Theory and Design (SPP)
  • Budgeting and Financial Management (SPP)


SPP students have many opportunities to engage in research or other projects related to governance, including through their coursework and additional forms of engagement with faculty. SPP faculty who conduct research in this area include:

  • Brenda Bushouse is an expert on nonprofit management and governance.  Her recent work examines the role of foundations in public policy processes and raises questions about the influence of elites in policy change.
  • Jane Fountain has published extensively on issues related to both collaborative governance and e-government.  Her classic book, Building the Virtual State, argues that barriers to digital governance are due less to technical capabilities than to the entrenched divisions and practices of government.
  • Carol Heim has studied collaborative governance in connection with regional planning and fiscal issues and has examined efforts to establish joint revenue sharing agreements among municipalities in Arizona.
  • John Hird is a specialist on the use of expertise in policymaking.  His recent book, Power, Knowledge and Politics, examines the way policy analysis is created and used in American governance.
  • Ray LaRaja looks at how money in politics influences policy-making.  In Small Change: Money, Political Parties, and Campaign Finance Reform, he examines the influence of campaign finance systems on winners and losers in state legislative races.
  • Kathryn McDermott's research focuses on educational equity and intergovernmental relations in the U.S.  Her most recent book, High Stakes Reform: The Politics of Educational Accountability, investigates the intervention of state governments in local schools and districts.
  • David Mednicoff's work focuses on the evolution of international law and its relation to governance in non-Western societies.  He is an authority on politics and structures of governance in the Middle East.
  • Charles Schweik is currently investigating the potential of open source software for improving collaboration across organizations, including cross-nationally.

Additional Governance Initiatives

The National Center for Digital Government is housed within SPP and seeks to build global research capacity and strengthen the network of researchers and practitioners engaged in building and using technology in government. The center is led by professors Jane Fountain and Charles Schweik.