Research Methods for Public Administrators

By Johnson, Gail | Policy & Practice of Public Human Services, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Research Methods for Public Administrators


Johnson, Gail, Policy & Practice of Public Human Services


Decisions made at every level of government have a tremendous impact on the lives of citizens and their perceptions about government's effectiveness. The public is increasingly demanding tangible results of policies and programs. Elected officials often ask for data to help guide their decisions. Information is sought to develop the best policies to protect the public, as well as to more effectively manage public institutions so they can better serve citizens.

Research enables public officials to engage in a rational approach to decision-making. A rational approach assumes that decisions are based on an accurate picture of the problem and the likely consequences of various remedies. The truth depends upon the ability of public administrators to objectively gather accurate data and interpret information. Research Methods for Public Administrators helps administrators do that.

The book informs the political debate and contributes to policy formulation and program management. In today's public management arena, the rising demands for measuring results, balancing score cards, reengineering and benchmarking processes, and assessing customer satisfaction require research skills. While most public administrators do not conduct research themselves, they are increasingly finding themselves inundated with statistics they must interpret.

Research Methods for Public Administrators seeks to enhance the public administrator's ability to assess the quality of the research and the credibility of its results by providing a simple, straightforward presentation of research concepts and principles. The book walks step-by-step through the research process and identifies the issues researchers must wrestle with in designing good research, analyzing data, and presenting results. It is intended to assist practitioners who conduct research themselves, hire others to conduct it, or simply are required to learn the material. It

* Provides the basic concepts, tools, and techniques of how to conduct research,

* Provides an understanding of what constitutes good research to write effective contracts and get the best research possible from outside contractors, and

* Provides tools to discern good research from bad research to best guide decisions. …

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