Integrating philosophical perspectives into the study of public administration: The contribution of Critical Realism to understanding public value

Ongaro, Edoardo and Yang, Yi (2024). Integrating philosophical perspectives into the study of public administration: The contribution of Critical Realism to understanding public value. Public Policy and Administration (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/09520767241246654

Abstract

Philosophical thought may provide an important contribution to the development of the theory and practice of public administration (PA). Notwithstanding such potential, however, philosophical thought has so far been limitedly employed in PA studies. To the extent philosophy has been brought into PA, three philosophies have been mainly used: Pragmatism, strands of Relativism-Constructivism, and Positivism. This paper argues that another philosophical approach can and ought to be considered much more systematically for application to foundational issues in PA studies, namely Critical Realism. The potential of this philosophical perspective is deployed to shed new light on key issues in the theory and practice of public value governance and management, a major area of academic investigation and practical application in the field of public administration and public management.

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