When undertaking qualitative research, public administration scholars must walk a thin line between being theoretically sensitive and imposing preconceived ideas on their work. This article identifies opportunities and pitfalls in using literature in qualitative public administration research. Although the opportunities are already well known within the discipline, the pitfalls remain underexposed. The authors identify potential pitfalls by using insights from the grounded theory approach. To illustrate how opportunities can be optimally exploited, and pitfalls avoided, they provide examples of high-quality public administration research. Finally, the authors derive recommendations for public administration scholars when using literature in their qualitative research. These recommendations can help improve qualitative methods in the public administration discipline.

grounded theory, literature review, qualitative methodology, theoretical sensitivity
dx.doi.org/10.1177/0095399711414121, hdl.handle.net/1765/63271
Administration & Society
Department of Public Administration

Tummers, L.G, & Karsten, N. (2012). Reflecting on the Role of Literature in Qualitative Public Administration Research: Learning From Grounded Theory. Administration & Society, 44(1), 64–86. doi:10.1177/0095399711414121