Taking Language Seriously: The Narrative Foundations of Public Administration Research
by Jay D. White
Georgetown University Press
Paper: 978-0-87840-878-8


The logic of research in public administration, argues Jay D. White, may be more like that of storytelling than of conventional social science research. In Taking Language Seriously, he examines the linguistic, discursive, and narrative foundations of public administration research and develops a narrative theory of knowledge development and use for the field.

White builds his case for this narrative theory by showing how research on complex problems is grounded in language and discourse. He then explains how a variety of recent developments in philosophy and the humanities—positivism, postpositivism, hermeneutics, critical and legal theory, postmodernism, and poststructuralism—can contribute to our understanding of public administration research.

Focusing on the logical structures of three modes of research—explanatory, interpretive, and critical—White shows how each is equally legitimate, depending on the nature of the research questions.

This comprehensive yet clear discussion of the philosophical foundations of research in public administration advances an alternative theory of knowledge development that will be valuable for everyone in fields seeking to affect social, political, economic, and organizational change.

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