How can researchers bridge the gap between scholarship and public administration?

Increasing the usefulness of academic scholarship for local government practition

From State and Local Government

Public administrators draw on a number of different sources to inform their work including the news, blogs, podcasts, etc. But why aren’t they drawing on scholarly research from published academics as a key resource and what can scholars themselves do about it? More than they might think, suggests new research. This article outlines how to conduct and disseminate academic research that is relevant, collaborative, and accessible to local government practitioners.

The research is based on a panel conducted in the summer of 2013 with four highly-experienced local government managers from across the U.S. The managers were asked about their reading practices of academic material and what scholars could do to make their research more accessible and useful for government officials. The researchers found that while collaboration with practitioners would help the scholars identify topics that are important to government managers, practitioner participation in scholarly journal articles is low. The article provides suggestions to increase collaboration between scholars and public administrators.


The connection between public administration scholarship and practice has been a challenge since the establishment of the profession of public administration. This raises several key issues such as whether practitioners have access to scholarly research, whether scholars are addressing topics that the practitioners are interested in, and the extent to which the practitioners can understand and apply material they have acquired from research articles. This article uses the results from a panel discussion with local government managers and information from leading public administration journals to explore the causes of the divide and offer options to help bridge the gap.


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Article details
Junfeng Wang, Beverly S. Bunch, and Christopher Stream
Increasing the Usefulness of academic scholarship for local government practitioners
State and Local Government Review September 2013 45: 197-213, doi:10.1177/0160323X13500771






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