A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Public Administration Research Universe: Surviving Conversations on Methodologies and Methods

Authors


Markus Haverland is professor of European politics and public policy in the Department of Public Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. His interests include European Union policy making and its effects on member states, comparative public policy, and the design of causal case studies. He is currently investigating the effects of the increased politicization of the European Union on policy-making processes. He has written numerous journal articles and has recently published Designing Case Studies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), coauthored with Joachim Blatter.
E-mail:haverland@fsw.eur.nl

Dvora Yanow is a comparative public policy scholar, political/policy/organizational ethnographer, and interpretive methodologist. The author or coeditor of several books and numerous articles, her most recent book is Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (Routledge, 2012), with Peregrine Schwartz-Shea; they also coedited the new Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods. Her present research analyzes Dutch race-ethnic category making in (im)migration and integration policies, research regulation policies and practices (e.g., institutional review boards), organizational and science museums, and practice theory.
E-mail:d.yanow@uva.nl, dvora.yanow@wur.nl

Abstract

Scientific conversations can be riddled with confusion when contributions to the discussion are based on notions about ways of knowing that remain implicit. Researchers often mix different methodological positions in their research designs because they lack an awareness of the distinctions between different ways of knowing and their associated methods. The authors engage and reflect on these differences, with particular attention to four areas: research question formulations, the character and role of concepts and theories, hypotheses versus puzzles, and case study research. They call on all researchers, both academics and practitioners, to be aware of the ways in which scientific terms serve, in research debates, as signifiers of different logics of inquiry. Awareness of these differences is important for the sake of productive scientific discussions and for the logical consistency of research, as both of the ways of knowing discussed here are legitimate scientific endeavors, albeit invoking different evaluative criteria.

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