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Fred Thompson

Emeritus Professor of Public Management and Public Policy

Headshot of Fred Thompson

Contact Information

900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301


"The world in which we live and work increasingly requires mutual understanding on the part of business and government."


How can business be more successful in the competitive world economy? By being more productive - by finding better ways to provide value to customers, by adopting technologies that create products of better quality at lower cost, by removing unnecessary costs and burdens, and by implementing marketing efforts that sell goods and services in a competitive fashion.

Government can also do many things to increase productivity. But sometimes the most important thing it can do is nothing, to allow industries and firms that can't make it to disappear.

Thompson Fishing The world in which we live increasingly requires mutual understanding of business and government. Government officials must understand what makes business tick. And business leaders must appreciate the functioning of government. The Atkinson School is committed to this mutual understanding.


  • Ph.D., Claremont Graduate School
  • B.A., Pomona College

Why Willamette?

We believe in “know how.” We have tried to make dramatic changes in the way we deliver instruction, sequencing courses around multi-disciplinary projects and experiential learning. We also try to practice high-commitment human-resource management techniques:

  1. Careful recruitment of faculty and students based upon the right attitudes, values, and cultural fit.
  2. Reliance on self-managed multidisciplinary instructional teams, made up of students as well as faculty, and decentralization of decision-making as basic principals of organizational practice.
  3. Comparatively high grades contingent upon team and school performance.
  4. Extensive, shared training involving everyone in the community (the IKEWS for example).
  5. Extensive sharing of performance and financial information throughout the community.
  6. Reduced status distinctions throughout the community.

Thompson Riding Professor Thompson draws inspiration from his faculty colleagues and students - making every day at the Atkinson School worthwhile. On a personal note, he enjoys the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and reading.

Areas of Instruction

Public Finance, Administrative Controls

Research Interests

Economics of Organization, Budget Theory, Public Sector Financial Engineering

Selected Professional Activities

Co-recipient of Public Financial Publication’s 2018 Jesse Burkhead Award for the best article published in the 2017 volume of Public Budgeting and Finance; Elected Fellow, 2011, National Academy of Public Administration; Recipient of the 2005 Aaron B. Wildavsky Award for Outstanding Lifetime Scholarly Achievement of the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management; Recipient of the 2000 NASPAA/ASPA Distinguished Research Award; Recipient PAR’s William E. Mosher and Frederick C. Mosher Award, for best article by an academic, 1994.

Past Consultant: United Nations Development Program; Arthur Andersen, LLP; Institute of Chartered Accounting, New Zealand; Consulting and Audit, Canada; Air Force Material Command; Office of Management Improvement and Business Process Reengineering, DOD; Economic Council of Canada, House of Commons (Canada); Defense Secretary’s Commission on Base Realignment and Closure.

Past President, Association for Public Budgeting and Financial Management.

Current Editorial Boards: Journal of Public Procurement, Municipal Finance Journal, Policy & Society, Public Money and Management, Editor emeritus. International Public Management Journal, Former Associate Editor Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis and Policy Sciences.

Visiting Professor, Interdisciplinary Institute of Management (2007-8), and former fellow, Centre for Risk and Regulation, London School of Economics.

Selected Publications

K Pierson, JC Thompson, F Thompson, Accounting for the State Fixed Effect for Municipal Cash Reserves: The Role of Financial and Institutional Variables, Public Finance Review 50 (2), 169-205, 2022.

Public Choice and the Origins of the Radical Right: A Review of Nancy Maclean’s Democracy in Chains–The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Society 56 (3), 300-306, 2019.

Mission-Driven, Results-Oriented Budgeting: Fiscal Administration and the New Public Management. In Performance-Based Budgeting: An ASPA classics volume, Gerald J. Miller, W. Bartley Hildreth, Jack Rabin, eds., 169-187, 2018.

F Thompson, K Pierson, ML Hand, MU Dothan, Is a good normative model of public spending run backward a good positive model? Public Budgeting & Finance, 37 (2), 35-57, 2017.

Hive Mind: How Your Nation’s IQ Matters So Much More than Your Own. Garett Jones. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016. 224 pp. Governance 29 (4), 584-586, 2016.

ML Hand, K Pierson, F Thompson, A Replication Study of “Why Do Cities Hoard Cash?” (The Accounting Review 2009), Public Finance Review 44 (5), 681-687, 2016.

K Pierson, F Thompson, How you buy affects what you get: Technology acquisition by state governments, Government Information Quarterly 33 (3), 494-505, 2016.

K Pierson, F Thompson, RW Walker, Property Tax Fairness in Multnomah County, Oregon, California Journal of Politics and Policy 8 (2), 2016.

K Pierson, ML Hand, F Thompson, The government finance database: A common resource for quantitative research in public financial analysis, PloS one 10 (6), e0130119, 2015.

Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice 17 (3), 305-308, 2015.

F Thompson, P Rizova, Understanding and creating public value: Business is the engine, government the flywheel (and also the regulator), Public Management Review 17 (4), 565-586, 2015.

It’s Spending that Matters: From Robust Control Theory to Practical Heuristics, OECD Journal on Budgeting 14 (3), 2015.

F Thompson, R Walker, A Tale of Two Cities: Learning from Oregon’s Property Tax Administration, State Tax Notes, 273-384, 2014.

Willamette University

Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Salem Campus

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Portland Center

200 SW Market Street, Suite 101
Portland Oregon 97201 U.S.A.