Picture of Michael Atkinson

Michael Atkinson PhD, MA, BA Professor Emeritus, U of S

Professor Emeritus, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and Associate Member, Department of Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Areas of Interest

  • Structure of government
  • Political economy of public policy
  • Ethics and corruption


Michael Atkinson is a Professor Emeritus in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan campus. He has held a number of academic administrative appointments including Associate Vice President Academic at McMaster University (1995-97) and Provost and Vice President Academic at the University of Saskatchewan (1997-2007). He served as the founding Executive Director of Johnson-Shoyama (2008-2015) and has also held visiting appointments at Duke University, Western University and the Université de Strasbourg. In the early 1990s he served as editor of Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration. His academic background is in political science and he has published extensively in that field and in public administration and public policy.  He is a past-President of the Canadian Political Science Association and in 2012 was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s gold medal for achievement in public administration. His research interests include public sector compensation, political ethics and the broad topic of good governance.

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Download Michael Atkinson's CV.

Download Michael Atkinson's presidential address, as outgoing CPSA president (June 5, 2013).


  • PhD, Carleton University
  • MA, Carleton University
  • BA, University of Alberta

Recent Grants/Awards

Recent Awards

  • Winner with Murray Fulton and Boa Kim of the J.E. Hodgetts Prize for the best article published in Canadian Public Administration 2014.
  • President of the Canadian Political Science Association, 2012-2013.
  • The 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal for Excellence in Public Administration, Province of Saskatchewan
  • Winner with Gerald Bierling of the McMenemy Prize for the best article published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science in 2005

Recent Research Funding

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). “Understanding Cost Efficiency in the public K-12 education system: a behavioural approach,” $73,657 2014-16 (with Haizhen Mou [principal investigator] and Jim Marshall.)
  • Social Science and Humanities Research Council, “Compensation of Public Sector Executives,” $104,000, 2010-13 (with Murray Fulton [principal investigator]).

Recent and Select Publications


  • Michael M. Atkinson, Daniel Béland, Kathy McNutt, Greg Marchildon, Peter Phillips and Ken Rasmussen. 2013.Governance and Public Policy in Canada: A View from the Provinces. University of Toronto Press, 175 pp.
  • Maureen Mancuso, Michael M. Atkinson, André Blais, Ian Greene, and Neil Nevitte, A Question of Ethics: Canadians Speak Out, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2006, 212 pp. First edition, 1998.


  • Michael. M. Atkinson. 2019. “Is Democracy Compatible with Good Government?” in David McGrane, John Whyte, Roy Romanow, and Russ Isinger eds. Back to Blakeney: Revitalizing the Democratic State. University of Regina Press.
  • Keith Walker and Michael Atkinson, “Warranted Hope” in Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook, Richard Couto ed., Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 2010, 9 pp.
  • Michael M. Atkinson and David Docherty, "Parliament and Political Success in Canada," in Michael Whittington and Glen Williams, eds., Canadian Politics in the New Millennium 7th ed. Toronto: Nelson, 2007, pp. 5-35. 6th edition, 2004; original chapter, 2000.

Refereed Articles

  • Maritza Lozano, Michael M. Atkinson and Haizhen Mou. 2021. “Democratic Accountability in Times of Crisis: Executive Power, Fiscal Policy, and Covid-19.” Government and Opposition (forthcoming)
  • Haizhen Mou and Michael M. Atkinson. 2020. “Want to Improve Math Scores? An Empirical Assessment of Recent Policy Interventions in Canada.” Canadian Public Policy 46 (1): 107-124.
  • Haizhen Mou, Michael M. Atkinson and Jim Marshall. 2019. “Budgeting for Efficiency? A case study of the public K-12 education systems in Canada.” Applied Economics 51 (34): 3740–3757.
  • Haizhen Mou, Michael M. Atkinson and Stephen Tapp. 2018. “Do Balanced Budget Laws Matter in Recessions?” Public Budgeting and Finance 38 (1): 28-46.
  • Michael M. Atkinson. 2016. “Richard Simeon and the Policy Sciences Project.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 49 (4): 703-720.
  • Michael M. Atkinson. 2016. “Richard Simeon and the Policy Sciences Project.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 48 (4): forthcoming
  • Michael M. Atkinson, Haizhen Mou, and Peter Bruce. 2016. “Fiscal Rules in the Canadian Provinces: Abject Failure or Qualified Success?” Canadian Public Administration 59: 495-515
  • Michael M. Atkinson, Loleen Berdahl, Steven White and David McGrane. 2016. “Are Canadians Stealth Democrats? An American Idea Comes North.” American Review of Canadian Studies 46 (1): 55-73
  • Michael M. Atkinson, Dustin Rogers and Sara Olfert. 2016. “Better Politicians: If We Pay, Will They Come?” Legislative Studies Quarterly 41 (2): 361-392
  • Stephen White, Michael M. Atkinson, Loleen Berdahl and David McGrane. 2015. “Public Policies Toward Aboriginal Peoples: Attitudinal Obstacles and Uphill Battles.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 48 (4): 281-304
  • Michael M. Atkinson, Murray Fulton and Boa Kim. 2014. “Why do governments use pay for performance? Contrasting theories and interview evidence.” Canadian Public Administration 57 (3): 436-458.
  • Loleen Berdahl, Stephen White, David McGrane, and Michael M. Atkinson. 2014. “Symbols, Self-Interest and Labour Attitudes: Evidence from Saskatchewan.” Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations 69 (4): 665-686.
  • Haizhen Mou, Michael M. Atkinson and Ata Ul-Munim. 2014. “The Cost of Government: Decomposing Provincial Government Expenditures, 1987-2007.” Canadian Public Policy 40 (1): 84-97.
  • Michael M. Atkinson. 2013. “Policy, Politics and Political Science.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 46 (4): 751-772. (Presidential Address)
  • Michael M. Atkinson. 2013. “Learning from the Best: Policy, Administration and Three Extraordinary Careers,” Canadian Public Administration 56 (3): 506-512. (Review Essay)
  • Michael M. Atkinson and Murray Fulton. 2013. “Understanding Public Sector Ethics: Beyond Agency Theory in Canada’s Sponsorship Scandal.” International Public Management Journal 16 (3): 386-412.
  • David McGrane, Loleen Berhdahl, Steve White and Michael M. Atkinson. 2013. “Leadership, Partisan Loyalty and Issue Salience: The 2011 Provincial Election in Saskatchewan.” Canadian Political Science Review 7 (1): 1-12.
  • Michael M. Atkinson. 2011. “Discrepancies in Perceptions of Corruption, Or Why is Canada so Corrupt?” Political Science Quarterly 126 (3): 445-464.
  • Michael M. Atkinson. 2011. “Lindblom’s Lament: Incrementalism and the Persistent Pull of the Status Quo.” Policy and Society 30 (1): 9-18.
  • Michael M. Atkinson and Gerald Bierling. 2005. “Politicians, the Public and Political Ethics: Worlds Apart,” Canadian Journal of Political Science 38 (4): 1003-1029 (winner of the McMenemy Prize.

Non-Refereed Articles

  • Michael M. Atkinson and Haizhen Mou. 2021. “Climate action, job creation are top post-pandemic priorities for Canadians.” The Conversation. March 28.
  • Michael Atkinson and Haizhen Mou. 2021. “The Post-Pandemic Economy: What Do Canadians Want?” JSGS Policy Brief. March 17.
  • Michael Atkinson 2015. “Paying Politicians: Persistent Tensions,” Public Sector Management 26 (1): 16-17.
  • Murray Fulton and Michael Atkinson. 2014. “The Politics of Deputy Minister Compensation,” Public Sector Digest, Spring: 12-18
  • Michael Atkinson and Daniel Béland. 2011. “American Democracy and Political Extremism,” Policy Options October: 64-67