Skip to Main Content

The University of Tennessee

Political Science Department

Frequently Used Tools:

Word Clouds

David J. Houston

Professor, Department of Political Science


A core faculty member of the MPA program since 1991, David's teaching interests are in the areas of public administration theory, public policy, policy analysis, and research methods. Prior to joining the UTK faculty, he spent five years as a member of the Department of Political Science at the University of Mississippi.


A main focus of David's research is on the public service motive. Are individuals who commit to a career of public service characterized by an ethic to serve others? This question has led to examining the attitudes of public servants in terms of intrinsic versus extrinsic job rewards, the propensity to engage in prosocial behavior, spirituality, and secularism.

He also is interested in traffic safety policy, undertaking evaluations of mandatory seat belt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, child safety seat laws, drinking-and-driving laws, and speed limits. Additional projects focus on individual attitudes towards traffic safety issues.

Other research projects focus on public attitudes towards government workers (in the U.S. and cross-nationally), as well as attitudinal studies of the relationship between religion, politics, and science.

Among the journals in which his research has been published are: Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Political Research Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention, and American Journal of Public Health.


Ph.D. in Political Science, Binghamton University (SUNY), 1988

M.A. in Political Science, Binghamton University (SUNY), 1984
(concentration in public policy and administration)

B.A. in Political Science, Fredonia State University (NY), 1982

The Children of the Light and the Children of the Darkness"Liberty depends incomparably more upon administration than upon constitutions.” 

Reinhold Niebuhr. 1944. The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness

The Symbolic Uses of Politics"What people get from government is what administrators do about their problems rather than the promises of statutes, constitutions, or oratory.” 

Murray Edelman. 1964. The Symbolic Uses of Politics, p. 193.

Dr. David J. Houston

Contact Information

1001 McClung Tower
1115 Volunteer Blvd
Knoxville, TN 37996-0410
Phone: (865) 974-5278
Fax: (865) 974-7037