Martha Derthick, 1933 - 2015

Martha Derthick’s studies convey deep insights into the inner workings of American institution—why the states have remained the ‘default’ setting in policymaking even in an age of centralization; or why things that according to PoliSci models should not be happening (deregulation) do sometimes happen. In many ways, this is political science at its best—with a scalpel, not a ‘rent-seeking!’ sledgehammer; moderate in spirit; and respectful of institutions: mindful of their limitations but convinced that somehow, we have to make them work.

— Michael S. Greve


Martha Derthick was a leading political scientist in the area of public administration. She is especially known for her studies on Social Security, federalism, intergovernmental relations, the politics of tobacco policy, and the deregulation movement of the 1970s.
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Over her immensely productive career, Martha Derthick held positions at the University of Virginia, the Brookings Institutions, and Harvard University. She received numerous awards for her work, including the 1992 John Gaus Award from the American Political Science Association for a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in public administration.
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Featured Works

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Martha Derthick speaks on “American Federalism in Theory and Practice” at Hillsdale College in 2010.

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