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Leisha DeHart-Davis, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Leisha DeHart-Davis, Ph.D. Leisha DeHart-Davis, Ph.D.

Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor | UNC-Chapel Hill


Leisha DeHart-Davis is an associate professor in the Master of Public Administration Program in the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill.





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Leisha DeHart-Davis is an Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor at the UNC School of Government. She researches behavior in public organizations, particularly related to how employees experience local government organizations.
DeHart-Davis has published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration Review, International Public Management Journal, Administration and Society, and Review of Public Personnel Administration. Her book, Understanding Rules in Public Organizations, is forthcoming in 2016. She chairs the board of advisors to Arizona State University’s Center for Organizational Research and Design and the Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management. She also serves on the board of the Public Management Research Association. DeHart-Davis holds a PhD in public policy from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Industry Expertise (2)

Education/Learning Research

Areas of Expertise (10)

Employee Engagement Surveys Employer-Employee Relations Human Resource Management Organizational Change and Development Organizational Policies and Procedures Public Administration Public Management Research Methods for Public Administration Survey Methodology Women in Public Service

Accomplishments (2)

Chair, Board of Advisors (2015), Arizona State University Center for Organizational Research and Design (professional)

Public sector management requires the simultaneous consideration of executing policies designed to meet public welfare while operating under unique constraints. Arizona State University's Center for Organizational Research and Design examines the drivers and outcomes of individual managerial behavior, managerial practices and organizational dynamics and how they influence public sector missions.

Chair, Public and Nonprofit Division, Academic of Management (professional)

The Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management brings together scholars, managers, and students who continue the public and nonprofit sectors and the relationships among public, nonprofit, and private sector organizations.

Education (2)

Georgia Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Doctorate, Public Policy

University of South Carolina: B.A., Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies

Affiliations (2)

  • Master of Public Administration Program UNC Chapel Hill Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor
  • Public Management Research Association

Courses (4)

Engaging Women in Public Service

The North Carolina City/County Management Association (NCCCMA) is a key event sponsor, with the UNC School of Government also providing support through its Innovation Funding provided by the Local Government Federal Credit Union.

In keeping with its mission to equip women to ascend in public service organizations, this Engaging Women event features two parts: a media training session in the morning, conducted by Green Room Communications LLC, and an afternoon session on executive local government career development presented by nationally renowned recruiter Heidi Voorhees.

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Human Capital Matters

This webinar on-demand series features experts speaking on a range of human capital management issues relevant to local government.

Succession Planning for Local Government Organizations
Effective Disciplinary Procedures
Value-Based Customer Service, Webinar On-Demand
Diversity & Inclusion: Successfully Leveraging Differences (Webinar On-Demand)
Human Capital Matters Webinar - Employee Performance Evaluation 101

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Succession Planning for Local Government Organizations

"Workforce planning is the most critical human resource management challenge in the public sector today." (IPMA 2002). This presentation will address this critical challenge through a discussion of the need for workforce planning including a presentation of the basic steps and stages of the planning process.

The presentation will draw on examples of what is occurring in public organizations, specifically an overview of the current state of workforce planning in North Carolina to provide highlights of the variations in practice as well as needed next steps.

Teresa Lockamy, formerly with the City of Greensboro, NC, will explore the evolution of Greensboro's succession planning strategies over several years, highlighting lessons learned, specific tools implemented, and program results. Willow Jacobson, School of Government, will discuss research and promising practices on succession planning in local government.

This program will benefit local governments seeking guidance on how to implement succession planning within their organizations.

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Diversity & Inclusion: Successfully Leveraging Differences

The U.S. workforce is becoming increasingly diverse in gender, age, race and ethnicity of employees. This Human Capital Matters webinar will focus on how to leverage these demographic characteristics to create more productive and effective workplaces. Richard Regan, a diversity and inclusion trainer from Kensington, MD, will lead the webinar, designed to help local government managers understand common diversity dynamics in the workplace and provide practical advice for creating inclusive workplaces.

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Articles (4)

Green Tape and Job Satisfaction: Can Organizational Rules Make Employees Happy? Journal of Public Administration

August 7, 2014

ABSTRACT: Organizational rules are the backdrop of public employee life, with research suggesting both beneficial and harmful effects to employee morale. In contrast to the traditional approach of comparing employee morale in workplaces with higher versus lower levels of rules, this
study examines the relationship between specific attributes of organizational rules and job satisfaction. A combination of three organizational rule attributes is expected to increase job satisfaction: consistent rule application (which conveys procedural fairness), optimal rule
control (which suggests elements of self-determination), and rule formalization (pertaining to the written quality of organizational rules). Applying structural equation modeling to survey data collected from the employees of two local government organizations (n = 1,655), we observe a significant and positive relationship between consistent rule application, optimal control, and job satisfaction, but no direct relationship between rule formalization and
job satisfaction. These results suggest that job satisfaction depends more on how rules are designed and implemented rather than the extent of rules in organizational structure. Future studies will need to account for specific attributes of organizational rules to fully understand the effects on public employee morale.

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Written Versus Unwritten Rules: The Role of Rule Formalization in Green Tape International Public Management Journal

September 13, 2013

ABSTRACT:Contemporary conceptions of written organizational rules evoke images of inefficiency, constraint, and rigidity. While formal rules can generate negative outcomes, this article argues that their written nature is not the culprit. Rather, theory suggests that the formalization process increases a rule's likelihood of becoming effective “green tape.” From a rule design perspective, rule formalization is expected to trigger more organizational learning and greater scrutiny than unwritten rules, which undergo no such process. From a compliance perspective, written rules are expected to focus organizational attention and convey legitimacy better than unwritten rules, thereby increasing the likelihood of compliance. Combining these expectations, the article hypothesizes that written rules will exhibit more logical designs, higher compliance, and ultimately greater effectiveness than unwritten rules. Statistical modeling of two data sources supports these expectations and suggests the need to rethink reflexively negative attitudes toward written organizational rules.

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Bureaucracy and Public Employee Behavior: A Case of Local Government Review of Public Personnel Administration

December, 2009

ABSTRACT: Government reinvention advocates assert that less bureaucratic work environments will spark higher creativity, more risk taking, and greater productivity in public employees. Although government reinvention remains a topic of interest to scholars and practitioners alike, these particular arguments lack empirical support. In response, this article tests the relationship between different forms of bureaucratic control (formalization, red tape, and centralization) and reported employee perceptions and behavior in local governments. Analyzing mail survey data from a study of the employees of four cities in a Midwestern state, this article finds that employee responses to bureaucratic control are not as straightforward as reinventionists expect. Different types of bureaucratic control are related to distinct employee responses, and sometimes these responses are the very behaviors that reinventionists seek to trigger by reducing bureaucracy.

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Can Bureaucracy Benefit Organizational Women? An Exploratory Study Administration and Society

May, 2009

ABSTRACT: A significant body of evidence suggests that bureaucratized organizations provide greater career rewards to women than do less bureaucratized organizations. Beyond career rewards, are there ways in which bureaucracy can benefit organizational women? This study explores potential answers to this question by examining perceptions of bureaucracy held by public employees. Analyzing qualitative and quantitative data collected from the employees of four cities in a Midwestern state, the study detects pronounced gender differences in perceptions of bureaucracy, particularly with regard to legitimacy, efficiency, equity, and control. These results suggest ways in which bureaucracy can empower the participation of women in organizations.

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