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Practice as Lived Experience: The Missing Link in Public Administration Research

María Verónica Elías
PAQ, Vol. 46 No. 1, 67-88 (2022)

As public administration and management are increasingly preoccupied with gaining status and legitimacy on the basis of scientific rigor, researchers seem to forget that the field they study is, above all, a practice. Practice questions concern how administrators interpret and act upon a situation, considering social norms and institutional notions that are shared. The relative merits of various modes of research is a long-standing issue in public administration, going back to the Simon-Waldo debate, but despite numerous arguments supporting the necessity of interpretive research approaches, the field has grown increasingly impervious to them. Hence, the need at this point for a wake-up call. This paper retrieves recent developments in interpretive research and makes a case for it in order to tackle our current challenging times, including heightened health risks during the Covid-19 pandemic to political upheaval and economic turmoil.

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