The Future of Public and Nonprofit Strategic Planning in the United States


John M. Bryson is the McKnight Presidential Professor of Planning and Public Affairs in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He works in the areas of leadership, strategic management, and the design of organizational and community change processes.


Strategic planning is now a ubiquitous practice in U.S. governments and nonprofit organizations. The practice has become widespread for many reasons, but the chief one is the evidence that strategic planning typically “works,” and often works extremely well. Improvements in strategic planning practice are likely to come as it is seen and researched in its full richness as a practice, or set of practices. Several predictions are offered about the future of strategic planning practice and research.

Guest editors’ note: In 1942, the University of Chicago Press published a book edited by Leonard D. White titled The Future of Government in the United States. Each chapter in the book presents predictions concerning the future of U.S. public administration. In this article, John M. Bryson examines John Vieg’s predictions on the future of government planning published in that book, comments on whether Vieg’s predictions were correct, and then looks to the future to examine public administration in 2020.