What Is Behavioral Public Administration Good for?

Anthony M. Bertelli, Norma M. Riccucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Abstract: Public administration has seen an influx of work addressing something that has been called “behavioral public administration (BPA)”; A hallmark of BPA is the examination of public administration from a micro-level perspective with attention to the psychological aspects of human behavior. However, scholars of public administration have long applied a micro-level lens to their research, even from a psychological standpoint. We argue here that the call for BPA is mainly an appeal for greater reliance on an analytical lens or research method, namely experimental designs. As argued here, however, little attention has been given to major drawbacks: experiments tend not to be theory driven, they overstate their importance to policy and management, and they fail to capture the significance of politics and institutions. If BPA is to be more than a passing fancy, the limits of experimentation must be reevaluated for public administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-183
Number of pages5
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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