The areas of my research are within public administration, public policy, and political science, focusing on how public organizations work to achieve intended goals and/or make a difference in people’s lives. My research has three areas of focus.

First, I study political-administrative relationships, public sector governance, and cross-sectoral collaboration. Political patronage in the Korean context was my dissertation topic, and since then my interest has expanded to bureaucratic politics, organizational/structural changes including creation and termination, soft budget constraint, board governance, and its impact on public sector performance. My training outside the U.S. (received a PhD from Seoul National University in South Korea) offers me a built-in comparative perspective. Studies in this category include Park (2021, PMR), which demonstrated the role of gendered leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on how democracy and representation moderate country-level responses. Studies in this category include Park and Kim (2013, POR), Park and Cho (2014, PPMR), Park (2013, IPMJ), Park (2018, POR), Park (2019, PPMR), Park and Fowler (2021, IJTOB), Park (2021, KJPS), including two publications in major public administration journals in Korea: Kim and Park (한국행정연구, 2010), Park and Kim (한국행정학보, 2012).

Second, I am constantly intrigued by minority issues and related concepts such as diversity, representation, equity, justice, and inclusion. The theory of representative bureaucracy is fascinating to me because it touches upon tensions between politics and government, the legislative and executive branches, politicians and bureaucrats, and responsibility and efficiency/neutrality. It is also interesting to explore the influence of institutional efforts, such as affirmative actions and quotas on demographic composition and organizational dynamics within the government as well as policy outcomes. The variations in empirical findings of gender-performance relationships led me to a meta-analysis of the past decades (Park, PMR, 2020). A recent work coauthored with my PhD student that explores the intergovernmental representation in Tanzania was recognized by the 2022 Rosemary O’Leary award.

My interests expand from gender to other diversity dimensions, such as race/ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, and disability status. A recent piece in Public Administration Review is an effort to bridge representative bureaucracy and environmental justice focusing on racial disparities between local communities and employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Liang, Park, & Zhao, 2020, Public Administration Review). Studies in this area include Park (2013, ARPA), Park (2014, JPP), Park and Liang (2019, PAR), Park (2019, PPMR), Park (2020, WSIF), Park (2020, PMR), Park (2021, PMR), and Park and Mwihambi (2021, PAR). Most recently, Park (2022, REP) examined quota effects being moderated by the increased descriptive representation in legislatures in over 35 OECD countries for three decades.

I am currently working on the impact of state government minority representation on the stringency of immigrant policies; the disproportionate effect of cutbacks on environmental outcomes; the role of policy entrepreneur and legislative professionalism in policy adoption; and experimental research on intersectionality, with different groups of colleagues in diverse institutions.

The third stream of my research is about how the government at different levels (local, state, federal, and international) manages personnel, financial, and organizational resources in different situations and contexts. Public administrators/managers’ role, incentive, capacity, and discretion that affects their influence, resilience, and performance have always been of my keen interest. Park (2019, Public Management Review) examined the relationship between resources and performance by focusing on the effect of staffing and employee cutbacks in policing in counties of California, Florida, and Texas. Addressing the endogenous and autoregressive nature of public performance, I found that cutbacks can be positive until they reach a threshold point, while the initial benefit is subject to diminishing returns and eventually degrades performance. The proposal of this study was awarded the Paul Volcker Junior Scholar Research Grant by the Public Administration Section of the American Political Science Association in 2017. I am deeply honored to be selected as a recipient of the Award. My efforts in this area include Park (2013, IPMJ), Park (2014, JPP), Park (2017, LGS), Park (2018, POR), Park (2019, PMR), Smith, Park, Liu (2019, IJPA), Park and Liang (2019, PPM), Park and Jeon (2021, IJPA), and Kim and Park (2021, IJPA). I would like to contribute to the scholarship by linking the three areas of my interest with diverse theoretical and methodological approaches.

A little bit about myself, I received a PhD and MPA at Seoul National University and B.A. at Yonsei University in South Korea; did postdoc at the University of Southern California with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (2009-2013). In September 3, 2018, I received a kidney transplant after a 20 year battle against lupus. I am indebted to so many people, family, friends, colleagues, and mentors, near and far, including the anonymous donor. I will do my best to make my life meaningful to myself and others. Recently, I adopted a baby grand piano and named it Yeppy (means pretty piano in Korean, sounds like happy). As an adult learner and amateur, I’m happy to share some of my playings here.