Applied Research Methods in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
A complete guide to applied research, featuring original data and detailed case studies Applied Research Methods in Public and Nonprofit Organizations takes an integrative approach to applied research, emphasizing design, data collection, and analysis. Common case studies across chapters illustrate the everyday nature of research, and practical exercises reinforce concepts across all sections of the text. The book includes forms and formats for data collection and analysis, plus writing excerpts that demonstrate results reporting and presentation. The accompanying instructor's guide features assignments, discussion questions, and exercises referenced in the book, and the authors' own data sets are available for use online. Conducting research, analyzing results, and synthesizing the findings for key stakeholders is fundamental to the study and practice of public and nonprofit management. Aligned with management curriculum for both sectors, the book focuses on the common ground these organizations share when it comes to planning, conducting, and using research in day-to-day professional activities. The original research examples presented are in the context of this shared commonality, including resource acquisition, evaluative processes, and future planning through the lens of common social policy issues facing leaders today. Topics include: The research process and applied research designs Applied research questions and literature Data collection in the field and survey research Data analysis, writing, and presentation The examples highlight intergovernmental institutions in which public service occurs, and provide expanded reach to nonprofit organizations and the networked collaborations that make up a significant portion of today's public service. For students and practitioners of public administration, public policy, and nonprofit management, Applied Research Methods in Public and Nonprofit Organizations provides a comprehensive reference to this critical skillset.
List of Figures and Tables xiii Acknowledgments xvii The Authors xix Introduction 1 Integrating Case Studies into Learning About Applied Research Methods 2 The Cases 3 Community Garden Initiative: Exploring Community Interest in Local Food Projects 4 Statewide Needs Assessment: Understanding the Status of Aging Women 6 Election Administration and Technology: Understanding the Implementation and Implications of Election Policy Decisions 8 National Program Evaluation: Domestic Violence Prevention and Faith-Based and Community Organizations 11 Criminal Justice Policy Reform: Exploring Innovation Across Sectors 13 Structure of the Book and Message to Instructors 15 Part One: Research Basics: What Do We Want to Know and Why? 19 Chapter One Overview and Context of the Research Process 21 The Research Process 21 The Applied Research Context 25 Public Administration, Nonprofit Studies, and Other Subfields 27 Information Literacy 28 Information Quality and Types of Sources 29 Finding High-Quality Information 37 Values, Beliefs, and Certainty in Applied Disciplines 38 Grand Theory and Theories of the Middle Range 40 Case Comparisons 41 Ethics and Institutional Review Boards 43 Specific Concerns for Public Administration and Nonprofit Studies 45 Decision Trees 47 Applied Research Project Planning 47 Typical IRB Review Considerations 48 Conclusion 49 Overview of the Book 50 Chapter Support Materials 51 Chapter Two Applied Research Questions, Literature, and Theory 55 Asking Good Research Questions 56 Case Illustrations of Research Questions 57 Research Questions and Sponsored Research 60 Case Illustrations of Research Questions in Sponsored Research 60 Using Literature and Building Theory 62 The Literature Review 62 Literature Sources 63 Literature Searches 65 A Note About Citations 69 Theory Building 71 Developing Research Expectations and Hypotheses 75 Theories of Change and Logic Models 79 Theories of Change 79 Logic Models 82 Steps for Development of Theories of Change 86 Decision Tree 90 Decisions About Applied Research and Using a Theory of Change 90 Conclusion 91 Chapter Support Materials 92 Chapter Three Applied Research Designs 99 General Parameters of Design 99 Major Design Types 100 Experimental Design 100 Quasi-Experimental Design 105 Nonexperimental Design 108 Case Illustrations of Research Design Approaches 113 Sampling 117 Random or Probability Sampling 118 Nonrandom or Nonprobability Sampling 121 Sample Size 123 Case Illustrations of Sampling Approaches 123 Decision Trees 127 Selecting a Research Design Type 127 Choosing a Sampling Strategy 129 Conclusion 130 Chapter Support Materials 131 Part two: Data Collection: Where and How Can We Gather Information? 135 Chapter Four Qualitative Data Collection in the Field 137 Validity, Reliability, and Error in Qualitative Research 138 The Process of Conducting Field Research 142 Interviews 146 Writing Interview Questions 148 Putting Respondents at Ease 149 Focus Groups 151 Direct Observation 152 Content Analysis 154 Case Studies 159 Case Illustrations of Data Collection 161 Statewide Needs Assessment 161 Election Administration and Technology 162 National Program Evaluation 163 Decision Tree 163 Data Collection Strategy 164 Conclusion 165 Chapter Support Materials 165 Chapter Five Survey Research 171 The Survey Research Process 172 Survey Design 175 Crafting Quality Questions 176 Response Categories 181 Demographic Questions 188 Problems and Controversies in Survey Research 189 Case Illustrations of Survey Use 191 Statewide Needs Assessment 191 Criminal Justice Policy Reform 192 National Program Evaluation 192 Decision Tree 193 Decisions About Methods of Survey Distribution 193 Conclusion 194 Chapter Support Materials 195 Part Three: Analyzing Data and Communicating About Them: What Do They Mean? How Can They Be Used? 199 Chapter Six Data Analysis 201 Context and Descriptive Analysis 202 Qualitative Analysis 203 Quantitative Analysis 207 Coding 208 Levels of Measurement 209 Descriptive Statistics 210 Statistical Significance 216 Bivariate Statistics 219 Multivariate Statistics 225 Codebooks 232 Case Applications of Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis 233 Decision Tree 240 Conclusion 242 Chapter Support Materials 242 Chapter Seven Writing and Presentations 249 General Tips for Writing 250 A Productive Writing Process 250 Feedback and (Constructive) Criticism 251 Readability and Appeal 252 A Note About Style 254 Types of Writing 256 Needs Assessments and Asset Mapping 256 Grant Applications 258 Funder Reports 264 Stakeholder Documents 266 Journal Articles 268 Applied Dissertations 270 Presentations 271 Presenting Material to Stakeholders 274 Academic Presentations 275 Case Illustrations of Writing and Presentation 277 Decision Tree 277 Decisions About Making Presentations 277 Conclusion 280 Chapter Support Materials 282 Glossary 287 Bibliography and Works Cited 303 Index 309
MITCHELL BROWN, PHD, is Associate Professor at Auburn University, Department of Political Science. Brown is Co-Director (with Kathleen Hale) of the Community Governance Research Project. KATHLEEN HALE, J.D., PHD, is Associate Professor and M.P.A. Director at Auburn University, Department of Political Science. Hale is author of How Information Matters: Networks and Public Policy Innovation.
Praise for Applied Research Methods in Public and Nonprofit Organizations “Brown and Hale present a comprehensive guide for students and practitioners interested in how to understand and measure processes and outcomes commonplace in public administration, nonprofit management, and community governance. Utilizing case studies relevant to the disciplines, they articulate the complex and nuanced environment in which applied research takes place and clearly identify the points at which decisions need to be made to ensure the best possible research results.” —Cameron Thies, Professor and Director of the School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University; Editor of Political Science Research and Methods “This is an excellent book that offers a fresh look at conducting research about public sector problems, highlighting relationships between stages of the research process, the iterative nature of research, and engaging with communities in problem-solving. I highly recommend the book to instructors working with upper division undergraduate or graduate students of nonprofit management, public administration, public policy, urban affairs, or other fields where applied research is used.” —Lisa Dicke, Professor of Public Administration, University of North Texas “This book offers a very accessible approach for engaging students in field research and the study of public problems using real-world examples and practical exercises in data collection, research problem-solving, analysis, and writing about results for multiple audiences.” —Heather Carpenter, Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management, School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration, Grand Valley State University “Brown and Hale’s case-orientated approach to research methods is ideal for students of public and nonprofit administration at the undergraduate or graduate level. By avoiding overly technical explanations, the authors provide a practical approach that will not be intimidating to even the most novice of researchers. The authors employ their depths of experience in conducting ‘pracademic’ research to clearly demonstrate the utility of the methods as they are being taught. The additional resources provided, in particular the linked assignments that connect the material from every chapter, are well-thought and ready to integrate into the classroom.” —Shane Nordyke, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of South Dakota
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