Gauging Good Governance: A Practical Tool for Normative Evaluation Research




Shields, Patricia M.
Rangarajan, Nandhini
Casula, Mattia

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This PowerPoint presentation at the 2021 ASPA conference introduces a new research purpose for Public Administration and applied research generally. Traditionally, scholars have recognized three purposes for empirical research – exploration, description and explanation. This paper advocates for a fourth purpose we call gauging. The three dominant research purposes implicitly operate in the world of objectivity. Gauging, in contrast, is a purpose nested in normative goals. It is similar to description, which asks “what questions”. Gauging instead asks “what should” questions such, “What should be done to improve an administrative process?” We argue and show that this unnamed purpose is hidden in plain sight in common practices such as accreditation. We also suggest the use of the practical ideal type framework as a way to frame empirical research using the gauging purpose. Examples are provided.



Gauging, empirical research


Shields, P., Rangarajan, N., & Casula, M. (2021). Gauging good governance: A practical tool for normative evaluation research. Presented at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration, Washington, D.C.


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