Saturday, March 12, 2005

Giving it All Away

I observe this morning that Mel (in paragraph four) has somewhat given the game away on our current project. It's looking pretty interesting alright, but I just hope he hasn't oversold!

Mel writes that
this has also been the week when friend Ciaran and I have been working to complete a paper on ethics and accountability for the upcoming ASPA meeting in Milwaukee. This is turning out to be a very interesting paper -- perhaps more interesting than we originally intended. Among other things, we will challenge the primary focus of much of the study of administrative ethics in public administration. While interesting and occasionally brilliant, most of the work in this area over the past 30 years can be regarded as "metaphysical speculation" -- or, in my terms, the search for the holy Grail of a moral theory for public administration to adopt and follow. As it is presently developing (at this very moment), our paper posits solutions to moral and ethical dilemmas as the central concern of administrative ethics, those posing an interesting challenge to the current mainstream literature in the field. It will be interesting to see whether anybody pays attention....

I suppose this is always the problem with projects like this: you can write all you like, but if you're too far beyond the field, nobody will quite know what to do with your work. Still, we'll soldier on. I think we have something interesting to say, which is good enough for me!

Certainly one thing about work with Mel is that it has provided an interesting introduction to co-authoring. A look at his publications list and his conference papers certainly highlights the fact that Mel is a past-master at it, but it is all a little new to me (though I have published with others in the last year too). But, as it turns out, I like this activity. It is fun to work with someone else, avoiding the pitfalls of writing alone (namely, agonising blindly over each little thing). When you write with someone else, they are always there to reassure you that you are on the right track or, indeed, to argue with as to what precisely the right track is. And of course they are available to remind you of impending deadlines!

But it's also interesting and challenging to learn how to compromise with someone and to defer to their greater expertise on matters (as they should be happy to do with you). I suppose this is why I enjoy working with Mel so much. We're the perfect academic couple: similar interests but from different perspectives, so we pursue our goals together without stepping on each other's intellectual predilictions too much.

And, lastly, since Mel is walking around like Quasimodo, I'm definitely the handsome one in the relationship!!!!

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