Laboratory experiments in public policy and management

Barry Bozeman, Patrick Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


This article reviews and evaluates the potential of laboratory experiments in public policy and management (PPM) research. We first consider reasons why laboratory experiments tend to be neglected in PPM research. These include the willingness of researchers to trade away rigor and internal validity to achieve local generalizability, the naturalistic preference for field and/or quasi-experiments, and the tendency to focus upon groups, organizations, and policies-rather than individuals-as units of analysis. Next, we provide an overview of the relatively few PPM studies which have employed laboratory experiments. We then focus on some of the methodological controversies surrounding the use of laboratory experiments and consider their implications for PPM research. We conclude with some suggestions for enhancing the potential for utilizing laboratory experiments as a method of choice for PPM researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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