Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Michelle L. Wade, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark W. Davis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen B. Crossney, Ph.D.


Since the inception of the discipline, public administration theorists and scholars have disputed how much, or how little, politics should be involved in public administration. Woodrow Wilson believed that politics and administration should be separate, while Dwight Waldo believed that it is government that should dictate administration, as that builds efficacy, efficiency and measurable outcomes.

Like scholars of the discipline, The Avengers (a fictitious group of superheroes) also could not agree on if administration should be governed with or without political guidance and find themselves at the forefront of a governance dispute regarding their management in the film, Captain America: Civil War, which eventually causes the group to disband. In this study, I conduct a qualitative Foucauldian discourse analysis to argue that the Sokovia Accords—the international regulation that directs how the Avengers should intervene in future conflicts—are proposed in the film to centralize Avengers governance to the authority of the United Nations, promote social equity, and reestablish accountability in a network. Using key concepts and frameworks of public administration, I rationalize that the Sokovia Accords not only create a principal-agent problem with its inability to incentivize specific Avengers into compliance but highlight Tony Stark (Iron Man) Steve Rogers’s (Captain America) varying approaches to public administration, as explained by the traditions of public administration (Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Madisonian, and Wilsonian).

This study can serve as consideration for public administrators on how to ensure that public private partnerships can sustain each other in a collaboration, when working with nonstate agents.