Faculty Working Paper: Karen Sweeting (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science)

Discussant: Sean Edmund Rogers (Spachman Professor of Human Resources and Labor Relations)

Overcoming Neutrality as an Organizational Learning Disability in Public Administration

  • Date: April 1, 2022
  • Time: 3:00 PM EST
  • Location: This event was on Zoom and has concluded.


Neutrality has developed problematic incongruities and evoked competing narratives in public administration discourse. Organizations often fail to recognize that neutrality promotes disparities through impartiality, indifference, and discriminatory blindness (i.e., cultural, color, race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, and immigrant status). This has contributed to normalizing discrimination and disparities based on a lens that veils its negative impacts and outcomes for marginalized groups and communities. This article builds upon Senge’s (2006) research and introduces neutrality as the eighth organizational learning disability. Neutrality is examined as a vehicle through which biases, stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination are continually injected and normalized in the social, administrative, and political institutions of public administration. This article has two major themes. One is the focus on the veil of neutrality as an organizational disability. Two is cultural competence and a commitment to intentional action in more sensitive ways to develop greater cultural awareness, inclusivity, competence, equity, and justice.