Story Voices and Views

Translating Research into Textbooks

Montgomery Van Wart, Ph.D.Professor, Department of Public Administration, CSU San Bernardino



Beyond my passion for teaching, scholarly research is a close second. A misconception about non-science faculty members is that our sole expertise lies in teaching. What people don’t realize is that we too conduct research and engage in scholarly activity.

Whether teaching public administration, history, communications or any other subject, professors all conduct research to help our respective universities become the best institutions possible. At CSU San Bernardino, we’ve created an environment where research endeavors thrive. I’m able to bring the research I conduct in the field into the classroom to help give students a well-rounded understanding of public administration topics. In addition to infusing my curriculum with case studies that I come across during my research, I speak about the models and training systems I’ve created to help students better grasp public administration theories that enhance executive leadership.

It’s the best feeling to know that through my research I’ve turned an outdated process into a model that is applicable to the 21th century public administrator. For example, I’m working on developing a theory called e-leadership that describes how leadership, organizational structure and technology co-evolve. It’s quite exciting because I’m utilizing the expertise of one of our doctoral students, and together we are gathering data from 500 CSUSB professors, chairs and deans to determine the best way administrators and faculty can manage virtual processes. Our hope is that the research will help public sector leaders maximize the use of technology to make and implement decisions.

My research also serves as the foundation for textbooks that I author—everything from texts about the dynamics of leadership in public administration to human resource management in public service. To date, I have over 90 publications that students, scholars and other researchers are utilizing in their everyday studies. It’s every scholar’s dream to have people value your work enough to use it to teach others and to know that students around the globe are benefitting from it. For example, during one of my trips as a visiting professor at the University of Hong Kong (where I taught students there about public administration), I was anonymously sitting in on a panel discussion at a conference, and listened as one of my research frameworks was being used as the basis for a scholar’s research agenda. It was very satisfying to know that my work was shaping the field in China.

Conducting research and analyzing pure theory, collaborating with scholars throughout the world, and building a research community where like-minded professors can work together, has contributed to my success as an author, professor, administrator and, last but not least, a researcher.