Experimental Methods, Agency Incentives, and the Study of Bureaucratic Behavior

Gary J. Miller and Andrew B. Whitford

in The Oxford Handbook of American Bureaucracy

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199238958
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Experimental Methods, Agency Incentives, and the Study of Bureaucratic Behavior

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Politics
  • Political Economy
  • US Politics


Show Summary Details


This article explores the key attributes of applying experimental methods to the study of bureaucracy. It engages in experimental research on incentives, structure, and other fundamental questions about bureaucracy. Next, it addresses two of the most prominent criticisms of experimental research on American bureaucracies: they lack external validity, and they cannot create laboratory environments that replicate organizational settings. While both pose knotty problems for any experimental research, each has special wrinkles in the case of experimental research on bureaucracy at both the individual and organizational levels. Is also important to note that field experiments suffer from a type of effect that is addressed most concretely in the case of laboratory experiments: the experimenter effect. The experimental approach applied to surveys may be less useful in the case of surveying real bureaucrats. The article finally covers several promising future possibilities for experimental research on American bureaucracy.

Keywords: American bureaucracy; agency incentives; experimental research; field experiments; laboratory experiments

Article.  11006 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Political Economy ; US Politics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.