Oliver James, Sebastian R. Jilke, and Gregg G. Van Ryzin, Experiments in Public Management Research: Challenges and Contributions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 530 pp. £ 35.99 (paperback), ISBN: 9781316614235; £ 89.99 (hardback), ISBN: 9781107162051; $36 (eBook), ISBN: 9781108216661

Date01 March 2019
Published date01 March 2019
286 Public Administration Review March | Apr il 20 19
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 79, Iss. 2, pp. 286–289. © 2019 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.13041.
Zachary T. Mohr is assistant professor
at UNC Charlotte. His work mostly
looks at management control in public
organizations and has been published in
Journal of Public Administration Research
and Theory, Public Administration Review,
Public Administration, and Public Budgeting
& Finance. His most recent article, with
Jaclyn Piatak and Suzanne Leland, is an
experiment that looks at service failure
in the context of contracted government
and budget constraints and appeared in
E-mail: zmohr@uncc.edu
Reviewed by: Zachary T. Mohr
University of North Carolina Charlotte
The book Experiments in Public Management
Research: Challenges and Contributions
edited by Oliver James, Sebastian Jilke,
and Gregg Van Ryzin reflects an important trend
toward experimental research in the field of public
administration. In addition, the book reflects the
use of experiments as they relate to other social
science disciplines that have also seen an increase
in experimental research in recent years. As such,
it is highly interdisciplinary and pluralistic in its
orientation. Another important element of this book
is that it shows how experiments can reengage research
and practice.
This book has many potential audiences. It is ideally
suited for students in PhD programs who are seeking
a touchstone book for how to conduct experiments
in public administration and researchers who have
experience with other research methods and want to
see how experiments can complement their existing
research. In addition, practitioners who want to learn
about how they can use experiments or evaluate
experiments in their organizations may also benefit
from this book.
The book is an edited volume, which makes the
organizational structure of a book review a challenge
because, at times, some chapter authors take opposing
views and speak from different research perspectives.
This diversity of viewpoints is important in that
it speaks to the many differences that exist when
conducting experiments in an interdisciplinary field
like public administration. The main sections of the
book are relatively more homogeneous, and I discuss
each section in this review with an eye toward how
each section addresses emerging trends, intersections
between public administration and other disciplines,
and the importance to practitioners and academics. In
the conclusion to this review, I note the importance
of this book for public administration, some potential
avenues to pursue in future books, and research on
experimental public administration.
Part I Context
The first section of the book is simply labeled
Context, but my title for this section would be Why
Public Administration Is Using Experiments Now. In
the introductory chapter (James, Jilke, and Van Ryzin
2017c), the authors and editors of the volume set
out what an experiment is—it must have designed
treatments, random assignment, and measurements of
outcomes—and it discusses the types of experiments
that are not covered in the book (i.e., quasi- and
natural experiments). The second chapter really
shows the emerging trend that is experimental public
administration (Li and Van Ryzin 2017). It shows that
there has been a tremendous spike in interest among
top public administration journals. The last chapter
(Meier and Funk 2017) discusses the long history of
experiments and pseudo-experiments within the field
of public administration. It notes that experiments
like Taylor’s experiments (of which there are six types)
and the Hawthorne experiment are foundational
studies in the field. This chapter particularly notes
that the experiments conducted early on had direct
application to public administration practices that
were characterized by simple tasks that could be easily
monitored. Present-day administration may lack
many of these key features, but the historical root of
experimental research remains.
Part II Methods
This was my favorite section because it describes the
different types of experiments. The first chapter in the
section is a “starting place for those that are interested”
in experiments (James, Jilke, and Van Ryzin 2017a,
Oliver James, Sebastian R. Jilke, and Gregg G. Van Ryzin,
Experiments in Public Management Research: Challenges and
Contributions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
530 pp. £ 35.99 (paperback), ISBN: 9781316614235; £ 89.99
(hardback), ISBN: 9781107162051; $36 (eBook),
ISBN: 9781108216661
Book Reviews
Galia Cohen, Editor

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