The Meaning of Inherently Governmental in OMB Circular A-76 from 1966 to 2003: A Change in Governing Approaches?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


There is a research deficit in public administration. We do not adequately ask how the essential concepts of governments that are expressed in political thought are operationalized through administrative mechanisms and then implemented into practice. The current study began addressing this deficit by investigating how the notion of governing approaches has been treated in the political thought of Ronald C. Moe and Moe and Robert S. Gilmour and then exploring how the idea of governing approaches and another essential concept of government, that of inherently governmental, have been operationalized in the administrative device, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76. I utilized a longitudinal qualitative content analysis to determine whether there was support for a change in governing approaches from a Constitutionalist Governing Approach to an Entrepreneurial Governing Approach in the evolution of the meaning of inherently governmental as it was used in OMB Circular A-76, Performance of Commercial Activities, from 1966 to 2003. All the Circulars showed evidence of the Constitutionalist Governing Approach. The project repositions the notion of inherently governmental as a thick political concept, a normative, context-specific idea that a polity must address. It also proposes a research typology to guide investigations of these kinds of ideas.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech Foundation Inc)
  • Hult, Karen, Supervisor, External person
  • Rohr, John, Advisor, External person
  • White, Orion, Advisor, External person
  • Wolf, James, Advisor, External person
Award date15 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2008


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