Public Administration

Traditions of Inquiry and Philosophies of Knowledge

Norma M. Riccucci

"This book is an outstanding contribution to the field and literature of public administration and it…will become a ‘must read’ on book lists for many university courses."
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Is public administration an art or a science? This question of whether the field is driven by values or facts will never be definitively answered due to a lack of consensus among scholars. The resulting divide has produced many heated debates; however, in this pioneering volume, Norma Riccucci embraces the diversity of research methods rather than suggesting that there is one best way to conduct research in public administration.

Public Administration examines the intellectual origins and identity of the discipline of public administration, its diverse research traditions, and how public administration research is conducted today. The book’s intended purpose is to engage reasonable-minded public administration scholars and professionals in a dialogue on the importance of heterogeneity in epistemic traditions, and to deepen the field’s understanding and acceptance of its epistemological scope. This important book will provide a necessary overview of the discipline for graduate students and scholars.

Table of Contents


1. Intellectual Heritage and Theoretical Developments: Is Public Administration an Art or a Science?

2. Searching for a Paradigm: Public Administration as a Postnormal Science

3. Identity Crises in the Social Sciences

4. Searching for Truth: The Logic of Inquiry in Public Administration

5. Theory Building through Qualitative Approaches

6. Theory Building through Quantitative Research

7. Theory Building through Mixed-Methods Research

8. Heterogeneity in Epistemic Traditions




"An important overview of the discipline of public administration for graduate students and scholars in public administration, public management, and public policy."—

"This book is an outstanding contribution to the field and literature of public administration and it…will become a ‘must read’ on book lists for many university courses."—Political Studies Review

"Public Administration is among the most valuable books in the field. Riccucci masterfully, succinctly, clearly, and comprehensively explains how we go about knowing what we know in public administration. The book should be required reading for every doctoral student in the field, and faculty members in all our research traditions will undoubtedly find it exceptionally helpful and useful. The book will make a major and lasting contribution to the ways in which we design and organize our research and scholarship."—David H. Rosenbloom, Chair Professor of Public Management, City University of Hong Kong, and distinguished professor of public administration, American University

"This book provides a sweeping and inclusive examination of the epistemic foundations of public administration theory and methods. Riccucci convincingly demonstrates that the field is better served when research questions drive methodological choices, rather than methodological commitments driving the questions we ask. Hence, this book should be a standard text for graduate seminars on the logic of inquiry and research design in public administration."—Craig Thomas, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington


Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2012 Best Book Award of the American Society for Public Administration

About the Author

Norma M. Riccucci is a professor of public administration at Rutgers University, Newark. She is the author of Unsung Heroes: Federal Execucrats Making a Difference and How Management Matters: Street-Level Bureaucrats and Welfare Reform which won the 2009 Herbert Simon Book Award from the American Political Science Association.

176 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
1 figure, 4 tables
Jun 2010

176 pp., 5.5 x 8.5
1 figure, 4 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-704-7
Jun 2010

176 pp.
1 figure, 4 tables
ISBN: 978-1-58901-617-0
Jun 2010

Public Management and Change series
Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor

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