Researching Public Administration in Different Cultural Contexts

Jesse Campbell, Assistant Professor at the Department of Public and Local Service, speaks about his research interests: from philosophy to public administration

You studied philosophy during your master’s studies in Canada. Later on you switched to public administration. Why did this transition happen? How did your interest in public administration arise?

My transition from philosophy to public administration came with my decision to study in South Korea. I found the story of Korea’s economic development fascinating, particularly the role played by government. Studying public administration in Korea allowed me to work with experts in this field. 

What are your fields of interest in public administration?

Currently I have two main streams of interest. On the one hand, I focus on core public management topics such as employee motivation and performance. However, I also continue to have an interest in topics relevant to the cultural and administrative context of East Asia, especially Korea. If possible, I hope to take advantage of my time at the HSE to broaden this focus to the Russian case.

Is Russia a good place to continue working on your topics and why?

It is an interesting one. Due to its distinctive development and characteristics, it can be a challenge to reconcile the realities of the Russian administrative context with mainstream trends in public administration scholarship, especially as these are often based on assumptions grounded in US or (West) European administrative development. At the same time, and to some extent precisely because the Russian case is less discussed in English language journals, there is an opportunity to make a contribution. I think that there are few better places than the HSE to explore this possibility.

You have experience in living and working in South Korea as an academic. What did this Korean experience give you in terms of work and life in general?

My time in Korea was valuable to me. Living and studying in a culture very different from one's own highlights the extent to which the 'truths' that we internalize during the course of our upbringing and education have limited applicability beyond our own culture. This realization continues to be relevant for me here in Russia. In a less abstract way, the competitiveness of Korean society made a strong impression on me. 

What are your work plans so far?

The HSE provides international staff with ample time to focus on writing. I intend to take advantage of this. 

Jesse Campbell grew up in Northern Ontario in Canada. After graduating with a Master's degree in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario (2005), he moved to South Korea to explore a new culture, a path that ultimately culminated in a PhD in Public Administration from Seoul National University (2014). Jesse joined the Department of Public and Local Service at the HSE in the fall of 2014.

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