Wrestling with intellectual diversity in public administration: Avoiding disconnectedness and fragmentation while seeking rigor, depth, and relevance

Rebecca Nesbit, Stephanie Moulton, Scott Robinson, Craig Smith, Leisha Dehart-Davis, Mary K. Feeney, Beth Gazley, Yilin Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Public Administration (PA) is a field characterized by great diversity in theoretical approaches and methodological tactics. This wide scope lends itself to potential epistemological and methodological fragmentation, which prevents scholars from adequately appreciating and building on each other's work. Although many scholars value PA's theoretical and methodological diversity, this intellectual diversity brings some important trade-offs that must be acknowledged. We see three future challenges for the field as (1) supporting the application of diverse and rigorous methodological approaches, (2) continuing to encourage theoretical diversity and theoretical depth, and (3) promoting relevance without compromising methodological rigor and theoretical depth. We believe that a self-conscious, deliberate focus on balancing these goals will strengthen and connect public administration. In this article, we suggest several practical strategies for accomplishing this, such as embracing the public focus of our research, working in interdisciplinary teams, and being more explicit about methodological assumptions and approaches in our writing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)i13-i28
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Volume21
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing

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