Putting Together the Publicness Puzzle: A Framework for Realized Publicness


Stephanie Moulton is an assistant professor in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University. Her research interests include public management (managing publicness), nonprofit organizations, and low-income housing policies. Her most recent project evaluates the relationship between private originating lender publicness and mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures, initially funded through an EDSRG Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urbanf Development.


In light of the blurring between sectors, it is critical not only to understand public organizations, but also to identify factors that contribute to the achievement of public outcomes across sectors. To what extent does organizational “publicness” lend insight to understanding and managing for public outcomes? By integrating the theory of dimensional publicness with recent work on public values, this analysis presents a framework that defines realized publicness as public outcomes predicted in part by institutions embodying public values. Based on insights from neo-institutional theory, managing for public outcomes, or managing publicness, requires attention to the combined effects of regulative, associative, and cultural-cognitive public value institutions. This analysis concludes with a timely application of the realized publicness framework to mortgage lending, demonstrating the importance of conceptualizing influences from diverse types of public value institutions when evaluating a particular initiative, such as the Community Reinvestment Act, and mortgage outcomes.