Brock John Headshot

Jonathan Brock

Associate Professor Emeritus of Public Policy & Governance

Jonathan Brock joined the Evans School faculty in 1981 and retired in 2011. His teaching and research focused on activities of people working in and around public and nonprofit organizations. Much of his work focused on conflict resolution and improving leadership and management skills and judgment. To stay current, he became-and remains-involved various forms of public service.

In conflict resolution, he was the founding director, working with the late Dean Mark Lindenberg and Bill Ruckelshaus in establishing the William D. Ruckelshaus Center as a regional resource for resolving policy problems that had been in, or might otherwise end up in, court, legislative battles, or impasse. To strengthen the Center, Brock soon approached WSU to join as a full partner. Since Brock’s retirement, his successor, an Evans School graduate, and the board have expanded the scope and value of this cross-state partnership and the legacy of the late Bill Ruckelshaus.

In leadership development, Professor Brock was the founding director of the Evans School Executive Programs, which on his watch, then known as the Cascade Center, became the second largest public executive training center in the country. With the skilled staff at the Center, and a board of leading public policy and management academics from across the country and support from the Pew Trusts, Brock founded the Electronic Hallway, which still provides case studies on policy and management issues to public administration programs worldwide. From this base, in the late 1990’s, he led an Evans School team in developing a model integrated management curriculum that influenced and upgraded public management offerings throughout the US. Since his UW retirement he regularly assisted the Australia New Zealand School of Government (a consortium of leading universities in Australia and New Zealand) in expanding and upgrading public sector executive education and developing a regional case program premised on the Electronic Hallway.

His labor and conflict resolution research and experience merged in the creation and chairmanship of a unique mediation system that over 20 years had a 100% track record of successfully investigating and mediating complex whistleblower disputes at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington. Brock chronicled the workings of this mechanism in the American Law Review and elsewhere.

These whistleblower activities resulted in appointment to the Obama-era bi-partisan, labor-management Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee at the US Department of Labor. He chaired the Committee’s effort that produced a consensus, cutting edge “Best Practices” template that was endorsed by the Department. Along with two committee colleagues, these best practices were applied to prevention of workplace sexual misconduct in an op ed published January 2, 2018 in the Boston Globe, “What Exactly is Zero Tolerance on Sexual Harassment?” In this era of whistleblowing, these tools have already been used by major corporations and industries to audit, create, or augment whistleblower protections.

In addition to his service in the Obama Administration, in the Clinton era Prof. Brock was appointed by Labor Secretary Robert Reich as the executive director for a task force on state and local government labor-management practices, which produced a consensus report on labor relations practices that would support cost-effective, high quality public services and better quality of work life. This report won a national award from the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution for contributions from academia to public policy. The same award was presented a few years later for a special issue he edited on this topic for the journal, Public Personnel Management. Also, he is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Personnel Management Association for outstanding contributions to research and practice in public sector human resource management.

He held junior policy positions in the Nixon and Ford Administrations, in the price controls program and on the staff of Secretary of Labor John T. Dunlop. He then became the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for OSHA. In the early days of the Carter Administration, he was on the team assembling the Department of Energy. Dunlop soon invited Prof. Brock to the Kennedy School where, in addition to sponsored research and writing, some noted above, he won the “Best Teacher” Award for an innovative course on leadership and motivation in public agencies.
He is the author of the award-winning book, Bargaining Beyond Impasse, of the text and case book Managing People in Public Agencies and is co-editor with David Lipsky of Cornell ILR of Going Public: The Role of Labor-Management Relations in Producing Quality Public Services.

Beyond the books, articles and chapters during his active teaching years, since retirement he has continued to publish, most recently a two-part article, co-authored with distinguished public management scholar, John Alford of Melbourne University, “Interactive Teaching in Public Administration”, in Teaching Public Administration, a British journal.

Although now largely retired and traveling to trouble spots (e.g., Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Bolivia) in order to understand major tensions in the world, as well as to peaceful escapes, he occasionally provides assistance and advice on whistleblower protections and case resolution, and on improvement in academic programs and centers, including work as a coach and adviser on ensuring the institutional and individual effectiveness of teaching.

Brock holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and an AB with Honors in Economics from Franklin and Marshall College.