Minding the Time: A Critical Look at Longitudinal Design and Data Analysis in Quantitative Public Management Research

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34 Scopus citations


Public management scholars are looking to longitudinal research designs and data to help overcome the many limitations associated with cross-sectional research. However, far less attention has been given to time itself as a research lens for scholars to consider. This article seeks to integrate time as a construct of theoretical importance into a discussion of longitudinal design, data, and public management research. First, I discuss the relative advantages of longitudinal design and data, but also the challenges, limitations, and issues researchers need to consider. Second, I consider the importance of time as a theoretical construct of interest in the pursuit of longitudinal public management research. Third, I offer a brief look at the use of longitudinal design and panel data analyses in the current public management literature. The overview demonstrates a notable absence of public management research considering the attitudes, motives, perceptions, and experiences of individual public employees and managers. Finally, I consider why there are so few longitudinal studies of public employees and point out the issues public management researchers interested in individual employee-level phenomena need to consider when advancing their own longitudinal research designs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-244
Number of pages26
JournalReview of Public Personnel Administration
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • cross-sectional data
  • longitudinal data
  • public management theory
  • survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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