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Research utilization in policymaking: A tale of two series (of social experiments)


  • David H. Greenberg

    (Professor in the Department of Economics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

  • Marvin B. Mandell

    (Associate Professor in the Policy Sciences Graduate Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County)


This paper is an exploratory attempt to view the role that social experiments in general, and the income maintenance experiments and work|welfare demonstrations in particular, have played in the policy process through the lens provided by the knowledge utilization literature. In addition to suggesting that the decision to conduct a social experiment is rarely, if ever, made according to an essentially rational paradigm, this framework helps highlight the range of uses to which findings from social experiments can be put and the circumstances under which various types of uses are more or less likely. Specifically, the knowledge utilization literature suggests that rather than having the dramatic, decisive effects on policy choices that their promoters have often envisioned, social experiments are more likely to affect policy in a variety of subtle ways.

Suggested Citation

  • David H. Greenberg & Marvin B. Mandell, 1991. "Research utilization in policymaking: A tale of two series (of social experiments)," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 633-656.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:10:y:1991:i:4:p:633-656
    DOI: 10.2307/3324989

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David H. Greenberg & Philip K. Robins, 1986. "The changing role of social experiments in policy analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(2), pages 340-362.
    2. Laura C. Leviton & Edward F.X. Hughes, 1981. "Research On the Utilization of Evaluations," Evaluation Review, , vol. 5(4), pages 525-548, August.
    3. Erica B. Baum, 1991. "When the witch doctors agree: The family support act and social science research," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 603-615.
    4. Henry Mintzberg, 1971. "Managerial Work: Analysis from Observation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(2), pages 97-110, October.
    5. Henry J. Aaron & Edward M. Gramlich & Eric A. Hanushek & James J. Heckman & Aaron Wildavsky, 1990. "Review: Social Science Research and Policy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(2), pages 275-311.
    6. Richard F. Elmore, 1986. "A political scientist's view of the income maintenance experiments," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 30, pages 206-217.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Wiseman, 1991. "Research and policy: An afterword for the symposium on the family support act of 1988," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 657-666.
    2. David Greenberg & Marvin Mandell & Matthew Onstott, 2000. "The dissemination and utilization of welfare-to-work experiments in state policymaking," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 367-382.
    3. Li, Kathy K. & Abelson, Julia & Giacomini, Mita & Contandriopoulos, Damien, 2015. "Conceptualizing the use of public involvement in health policy decision-making," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 14-21.
    4. Michael J. Camasso, 2004. "Isolating the Family Cap Effect on Fertility Behavior: Evidence From New Jersey's Family Development Program Experiment," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(4), pages 453-467, October.
    5. Jan Blustein, 2005. "Toward a more public discussion of the ethics of federal social program evaluation," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 824-846.
    6. Grant, Peter R., 1997. "The relocation of nursing home residents: An illustration of the advantages gained by planning a new program and designing an implementation evaluation together," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 507-516, November.

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