Understanding the meaning of concepts across domains through collocation analysis: An application to the study of red tape

Wesley Kaufmann, R.F.J. Haans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Public administration scholarship is facing a crisis of legitimacy, as academic research is viewed as both increasingly irrelevant for practice and methodologically underdeveloped. In this study, we put forward a so-called collocation analysis approach, which is a useful tool for studying the meaning of key concepts in public administration and (re)focusing academic research agendas to salient societal problems by identifying how concepts are talked about in different domains. To illustrate our approach, we assess the meaning of red tape in academia, policy-making, and the media. Our dataset consists of 255 academic articles, 2,179 US Congressional Records, and 37,207 US newspaper articles mentioning red tape. We find that red tape has specific connotations in each domain, which limits the extent to which these domains are being bridged. Using the insights from our analysis, we develop a red tape research agenda that aims for more relevant and rigorous knowledge generation and conclude by setting out implications and ways forward for public administration research at large.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

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