Field Experimental Work on Political Institutions
Posted: 21 May 2014
Date Written: May 2014
A nascent but growing research area examines political institutions through the use of field experiments. I consider why field experimentation has been used infrequently in the study of political institutions and note that some research questions are not amenable to field experimentation. I review areas of research inquiry where field experimentation has enhanced scholarly knowledge about political institutions and representation. These areas include the study of race, representation, and bias in legislatures and courts; and policy responsiveness and legislative accountability. I synthesize this research by examining puzzles that emerge between the field experimental and observational work. I conclude with suggestions for promising research avenues, including the use of field experiments to study the bureaucracy. The discipline's understanding of political institutions could be improved with a greater emphasis on field experimental work.
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