School of Public Affairs alumnus wins award for doctorial dissertation


ASU School of Public Affairs

Azfar Nisar, a 2016 graduate of the School’s doctoral program, has been awarded the prestigious Best Dissertation Award from the Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management. 

Nisar’s dissertation, entitled “Managing the Margins: Intersections of the State and the Khawaja Sira in Lahore, Pakistan," is ethnographic study of the Khawaja Sira, a marginalized transgender community. The central issue that drives his project is how marginalized, vulnerable populations—like the Khawaja Sira—encounter the formal and informal institutions of government and how experiences of equity and citizenship are experienced through them. 

To examine these issues, Nisar spent 10 months in the field collecting data and securing an unprecedented level of trust from and access to this community. He also was able to speak with an array of frontline service providers in the government and nonprofit sectors.

Thomas Catlaw

Thomas Catlaw, associate professor and chair of Nisar’s dissertation committee, says his work makes a significant contribution to public administration research and also offers many practical implications.

“Azfar’s dissertation is a rich, erudite, rigorous, inventive and, at times, heart-breaking piece of social research,” notes Catlaw. “I can’t imagine a dissertation more worthy of recognition.”

ASU School of Public Affairs associate professor Mary Feeney and assistant professor Spiro Maroulis also served on Nisar’s dissertation committee.

Karen Mossberger

"The School of Public Affairs is extremely proud of Azfar and his accomplishments," says director Karen Mossberger. "This rich and perceptive study has important implications for public administration theory and practice more generally, and we congratulate Nisar on this very distinguished recognition, which is a top honor in our field."

After graduating from SPA in November 2016, Nisar took a position as an assistant professor at in the Suleman Dawood School of Business at Lahore University of Management Science, a premier research institution in Pakistan. 

Prior to joining ASU, Nisar served as program director of a national healthcare and development project. His previous assignments include serving as Deputy Secretary of a State Finance Department, and City Manager of one and Assistant City Manager of two districts of Pakistan. As a Fulbright Fellow, he received masters degrees in public policy and international & area studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His undergraduate degree is in medicine from King Edward Medical College, Pakistan.

According to its website, "the Public and Nonprofit Division of the Academy of Management brings together scholars, managers, and students who [study] the public and nonprofit sectors, and the relationships among public, nonprofit, and private sector organizations.”