CFP: Experiments, replication and knowledge in public management research

Special issue of Public Management Review, schedule for publication 18(6) December 2016

‘Experiments, replication and knowledge in public management research’

Guest editors: Richard M. Walker, Director, Public Management Evidence Lab, City University of Hong Kong, Professor Oliver James, Department of Politics, University of Exeter, UK, and Professor Gene A. Brewer, Department of Public Administration and Policy, University of Georgia, USA

Public management research draws on the full methodological repertoire of the social sciences in the search for valid and reliable evidence, but has favoured observational techniques because they deliver practically relevant research findings. The repertoire has grown to embrace the use of experimental methods and the number of public management studies adopting experimental methods (including field, laboratory and survey types) have grown substantially over recent years (Margetts 2011). Recent studies implementing experimental methods have focused on key and important public management topics including citizen-government relations (James 2011; Walker et al 2013; Van Ryzin 2013; Grimmelikhuijsen and Meijer 2014;), equity (Jakobsen and Calmar Andreson 2013), rules (Kaufman and Feeney 2014) and decision-making (Avellaneda 2011).

Experiments hold attraction because they offer strong internal validity—the researcher is in control of the variables under investigation. However, like many methods they suffer from limited external validity. This special issue will tackle this important social science topic in relation to public management research methodologies and discuss a range of conceptual, methodological and empirical issues surrounding external validity and the replication and extension of studies that implement experimental research methods.

Replication of experimental method studies is important because it asserts the external validity of knowledge and its ability to be generalized. Replication is discussed and undertaken, sometimes controversially, in other social science disciplines (Freese 2007; Nosek and Lakens 2014). In public management the growth in studies employing experimental methods has not been matched by replication as very few have been replicated to date. Limited replications may arise because there is a tendency to publish positive results—rather than accept the null hypothesis—and novel ideas are more valued by journal editors than the incremental accumulation of knowledge that comes through replication. A possible outcome is that false positives are likely to be reported because of the desire to reject the null hypothesis, coupled with the discretion researchers often have in research practice and reporting.

This special issue of Public Management Review requests manuscripts on topics including:

· Conceptual, methodological, theoretical and ethical questions of research methodology and replication in social science and public management research,
· Experiences and best practices in replication studies from other disciplines for public management research, and
· Replications and extensions of prior studies that use laboratory, field, survey and vignette methods examining public management questions. Extensions can include methodological enhancements, theoretical refinements and improvements to substantive knowledge about important topics.


Abstract of 400 words including information on the authors to be submitted to Mr. Benny Chan ( by April 10 2015. Feedback from the guest editors will be provided by April 30 2015.

Full manuscripts for review to submitted by 31st January 2016. All manuscripts will be double blind reviewed

The guest editors anticipate the Public Management Research Lab at City University of Hong Kong hosting a workshop in December 2015 to discuss draft manuscripts prior to review. Further information on this will follow.

Any queries should be addressed in the first instance to Richard M. Walker at