2nd Meeting of the Tendler Network

April 2, 2020


Hold the Date & Call for Submissions

Understanding Good Performance in Public Sector Organizations


Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Friday, April 2nd & 3rd, 2020

By nature, public sector organizations tend to be over-burdened and under-resourced. Not surprisingly, many analysts who examine these organizations can elaborate on their pathologies at great length and in enormous detail. And yet, time and again, these flawed organizations deliver remarkable results even when lacking many of the expected “pre-requisites” for success.

What explains good performance by public sector organizations? How and why do some seemingly mediocre organizations achieve stellar outcomes? Specifically, what are the conditions, structures, policies and practices that create pressures within and around these organizations that can lead to improved performance, even if is only temporary, and despite the presence of obstacles? Going beyond the New Public Management literature and its more recent offshoots, are there under-appreciated, unconventional, hidden or counter-intuitive explanations for dramatic turnaround in public sector performance?

We invite you to the 2nd meeting of the Judith Tendler Network, to be held on April 3rd, Friday, at MIT. We also invite submissions of research papers, teaching notes, first-person narratives by practitioners and public officials, and research proposals by advanced doctoral students to open a discussion on the pressures for good performance in the public sector. We look forward to lively deliberations on the topic by faculty, practitioners and advanced graduate students from leading schools of planning, public policy, and related disciplines.

The best papers might be compiled in an edited volume or a special issue of a journal.

If interested in presenting, please submit your name, affiliation, an abstract, and the title of your talk to tendler.submissions@gmail.com by December 1st 2019.

If you have questions, or simply want to be added to our email distribution list to receive updates on the event, please send an email to tendler.submissions@gmail.com.


The Tendler Network is an informal organization dedicated to fostering the kind of research that was pioneered by our friend, mentor, and colleague Judith Tendler (1938-2016). If you are not familiar with her approach, Judith Tendler relied on fieldwork to understand how governments and communities could follow their own pathway to prosperity. A near-complete collection of her articles and reports are available through the Colorni-Hirschman Institute. The first meeting of the network was held at NYU Wagner in March 2019. The program is available here.