Understanding Affirmative Action: From the Practitioner's Perspective

Joseph Michael Pace, Zachary Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Affirmative action was originally meant to remove by law, as required by the Equal Pay Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “artificial barriers” that often prevented women and minority groups from entering the workforce. By the late 1960's and early 1970's affirmative action had been altered to become the governmental attempt to provide compensatory opportunities for groups who experience discrimination when seeking employment. More recently the legal essence of affirmative action refers to specific guidelines and rules to recruit, hire, and promote disadvantaged groups for the purpose of eliminating the existing effects of past discriminatory practices. Despite a plethora of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, affirmative action has yet to be clearly defined as a cohesive public policy. The Court's failure to define affirmative action as a coherent constitutional and legal concept has led to widespread misinterpretation of affirmative action goals among public administrators. This notion is substantiated by examining the results of a survey of local government officials at the county and municipal level which measures their understanding and perception of federal law pertaining to affirmative action's meaning and purpose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding Affirmative Action: From the Practitioner's Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this