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Federalist No. 51: Is the Past Relevant to Today's Collaborative Public Management?


Lisa Blomgren Bingham is the Keller-Runden Professor of Public Service in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and a visiting professor of law in the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her recent research examines the legal framework for public engagement, dialogue, deliberation, and collaboration in governance. She currently is working on a book examining justice and the rule of law in institutional and dispute systems design.

Rosemary O'Leary is the Distinguished Professor and Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Her research, teaching, and practice focus on improving the implementation of collaborative governance efforts, including addressing the conflicts inherent in collaborative networks and understanding the impact of law on collaborative policies.


Federalist No. 51 is another of the most recognizable and important of the Federalist Papers, famously arguing that one first must enable government to control the governed, and then oblige it to control itself. The authors suggest that part of this obligation involves effective collaboration within a system of separate powers. They then ask how this “collaboration imperative” can be exercised in today’s contentious political environment.