Ali Farazmand Wins Fred Riggs Award

Professor Ali Farazmand’s Speech as Recipient of the ASPA’s 2017 Fred Riggs Award in recognition of his distinguished Lifetime Achievements and Original Contributions to theories, knowledge, and practice in Public Administration, March 2017.

The following is shortened/condensed excerpt/report of Professor Farazmand:

Professor Ali Farazmand, School of Public Administration, was the recipient of the 2017 Fred Riggs Award at the ASPA Conference in Atlanta, March 2017. Dr. Farazmand was chosen unanimously by more than 300 members of the ASPA’s Section on Comparative and International Administration (SICA) in recognition of his distinct Lifetime Achievements, and original contributions to advancing knowledge in the fields of public administration and policy, at the Annual SICA Breakfast Meeting, March 2017. Fred Riggs Award is one of the ASPA’s top and most prestigious awards given to an outstanding scholar and member, one whose lifetime contributions to advancing knowledge in the fields of public administration and policy have surpassed any level of expectations by making groundbreaking theoretical and practical contributions to the fields. Professor Farazmand was recognized with distinction and resounding support from around the globe—more than 30 scholars wrote nomination and support letters for his award, plus all the SICA members who unanimously supported his nomination.

He was distinguished for his ground breaking original contributions to “Organization Theory, Institutional Theories, Globalization and Comparative/International Studies Theories, and Chaos/Transformation Theories, and Crisis Management Theories.”

As part of the award ceremony, Professor Farazmand gave a 45 minute speech on his close academic relationships with Fred Riggs, and Riggs’ legacies and contributions. Farazmand’s speech touched on some central macro-big pictures, something no one had ever done before: Farazmand put Fred Riggs in the global contexts of the 1950s and 1960s, when institutional theories, systems theories, and Cold War Dual World Order permeated  academic scholarship  in social sciences (political science, sociology, economics, organization theory, and public administration) with suffocating ideological rivalries on the one hand, and promoted Western capitalist-oriented approaches to development and international studies. As an academic field of study and practical enterprise, public administration was caught in the middle, forced to perform and achieve the ideological goals dictated by the top that was leading the Cold War, while struggling with ways to advance science and professionalism:


  1. Institutional Theories required and meant “institution building and bureaucratization” (both military and civilian) of societies and enhancing the state power in developing and developed nations under the Western influence and domination.
  2. Systems Theories required and meant beefing up the power of the bureaucratized and capitalized systems of the capitalist government/state and economy with all means (including military coups as well as civilian bureaucracy reforms) to protect the systems by all means while crushing any discontent, popular democratic governments unfriendly to the United States, and revolutionary movements in Central and Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
  3. Organization Theory and Public Administration Theories focused on incrementalism in decision sciences and bureaucratized state power (both military and civilian) and execution of the Cold Ward ideological missions. Farazmand concluded that, while the Cold War and the Dual World Order have been replaced by the rising expectations and movements of citizen engagement as well as the concepts of anti-bureaucracy and prescriptions of market theory ideologies that promise a lot  but delivering little, the reality is that no revolutionary changes have taken place; on the contrary, a global surge of predatory capitalism and globalization (by both peaceful and violent means) have permeated the world of nation states and their economies, with rising more poverty, more human trafficking, more conflicts, and more wars with devastation in developing countries.

Predatory globalization and predatory capitalism backed by predatory states have turned the world into a new “age of madness” in the face of threats by dominant hegemonic states to use nuclear bombs against revolutionary governments and those refusing to be subjugated by the big ones in the 21st century.  The dual world-order has been replaced by Multi-World Order, as some states refuse to submit to the Uni-Polar World Order. The result has been mounting dialectical tensions at the global stage. Public administration theory must search for new ideas to neutralize actors of madness while improving service delivery and moderating ideological extremities.

He encouraged students and scholars to internalize and practice the values of what he called “Principled Professionalism”: competence combined with character, ethics and accountability against temptations of power and abuse of power, fairness and equity and avoidance of haste and temperament, professional integrity in the face of political and unethical pressures, and commitment to the Noble Profession of Public Service.” This is a future that students and scholars of public administration and policy must grapple with. Finally, Professor Farazmand also invited and advised younger scholars in public administration to take stock from experiences, study harder and broaden their world views with open mindedness, and be inspired by leaders of the fields and their legacies.

Ali Farazmand,
Atlanta, March 2017.