Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Service


Public Administration and Policy

Committee Director

Berhanu Mengistu

Committee Member

Katrina Miller-Stevens

Committee Member

Joshua Steinfield

Committee Member

Gail Nicula


The field of Public Policy and Administration is heavily influenced by the decisions individuals make regarding matters of governance. These types of decisions can affect a broad scope of government-related activities ranging from esoteric debates about political ideology to policy development to specific ways in which people directly interact with public services. Unfortunately, in the view of this research, there is no sufficient model for conceptualizing governance decision making. This creates the focus of inquiry for this work, which is to examine how governance decisions are conceived of and formulated. The purpose of this research is then to analyze the governance decision making processes. This is achieved by examining the available research on decision making processes and then contrasting the widely applied rational approaches with the more applicable nonrational approaches for decision making. This review will indicate that a nonrational conceptualization based on schemas, heuristics, and a societal-level shared mental model may be more instrumental in analyzing governance decisions than rational conceptualizations. The unique but necessary methodological approach of abductive logic is used to develop a theoretical foundation for this new perspective. An application of abductive principles is used to create a framework that anchors governance decisions. The result of these efforts is a model that can serve as a tool for analysis of these important and influential decisions in governance.


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