Lael Keiser

Lael Keiser
Director of Truman School of Government and Public Affairs
Public Policy and Administration
615 Locust Street

Lael Keiser (Professor) has been with the Department since 1996. She received her Ph.D. in 1996 from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and specializes in bureaucratic politics and policy implementation. She also has substantive policy interests in social welfare policy and education.


My research explains why individuals working collectively within public bureaucracies implement policies the way they do. I am interested in how the bureaucracy shapes the policy that citizens actually experience as they interact with street-level or front line workers. More specifically, I focus on how decision making processes, administrative controls and political signals influence bureaucratic outputs and how the demographic characteristics of bureaucrats affect administrative policy making.

These interests are being pursued through several different kinds of activities. I am working on a book project that explores how the bureaucracy (the Social Security Administration) has shaped the size of the welfare state through the management of the eligibility determination process of the Social Security Disability program between 1980 and 2005. I also have several projects with various co-authors on how the sex of school administrators, teachers and students affects the kinds and quantity of school discipline public schools engage in and the legitimacy of disciplinary action taken in schools.

  • The Administrative State, Constitutional Democracy and Public Policy
  • Public Policy
  • Administrative Politics
  • Research Workshop: Public Policy and Administrative Politics
Selected Publications: 

“State Governments as Entrepreneurs in Securing Federal Benefits for their Citizens.” With Susan Miller. Publius. 43(4):497-526. 2013

“Does My Boss‘s Gender Matter? Explaining Job Satisfaction and Employee Turnover in the Bureaucracy. With Jason Grissom, Jill Nicholson-Crotty.  Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.  22(4): 649-673.  2012.

“A Supervisor Like Me:  Race, Representation, and the Satisfaction and Turnover Decisions of Public Sector Employees.  With Jason Grissom.  Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.  30: 557–580.  2011. 

“The Impact of Political Resources on the Performance of Policy Implementation Networks in the Veterans’ Disability Compensation Program.” With Susan Miller. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 20: 505-531. 2009.

“Race, Bureaucratic Discretion, and the Implementation of Welfare Reform.” With Peter Mueser and Seung Whan Choi. American Journal of Political Science 48 (2) April: 2004

“Lipstick and Logarithms: Gender, Identity, Institutional Context, and Representative Bureaucracy” with Vicky Wilkins, Kenneth J. Meier and Catherine Holland. American Political Science Review. 96(3) September: 2002.