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The Behavioral Public Administration Movement: A Critical Reflection

Journal Title Public Administration Review
Published Date December 09, 2019
Research Type
Authors Russell Hassan


Proponents of the behavioral public administration movement call for greater use of theories from psychology and experimental research designs to improve the rigor of public administration research. We agree that the use of such theories and methods will provide much-needed reinforcements to public administration research, but the approach taken so far might be too narrow and might unnecessarily alienate scholars using other perspectives and research approaches. Reflecting on our own training and experiences, we suggest that adopting a more inclusive approach that employs insights and research tools not only from psychology but also from other disciplines will provide public administration scholars with a stronger footing in their efforts to generate actionable knowledge for public managers and policy makers. We also identify some key methodological issues that behavioral public administration scholars need to consider and address as the use of experiments becomes more common in public administration research. Finally, we encourage public administration scholars interested in behavioral research questions to do more to contribute to broader management and organizational behavior research.

Hassan, S. & Wright, B.E. (2020). The Behavioral Public Administration Movement: A Critical Reflection. Public Administration Review, 80, 163-167.