Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Patrick, Barbara

Committee Member

Emison, Gerald A.

Committee Member

Stephen Shaffer

Committee Member

Wiseman, William M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Public Policy and Administration

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


Efforts to meet the needs of poverty stricken Americans have resulted in the passage of numerous federal and state policies. Current Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policy emphasizes sharing the responsibility for meeting citizens’ needs through partnerships with those in poverty. Such reforms challenge local administrators to define and assess the terms of welfare policy reform success. This study’s adaptation of the theory of positionality examines how position in public organizations can inform employees’ views of welfare policy performances. Specifically, it seeks to determine if the type of administrative responsibility and interaction (positionality) with citizens leads to differing views of performance policy success, needed policy reforms, and varying views on the importance of including welfare clients in welfare policy reform discussions, development and evaluation. The study finds that current TANF policy is effective at meeting clients’ needs, but administrators differ in how they define and apply self-sufficiency, and they are not supportive of involving clients in the administration of welfare policies.