Surveys have long been a dominant instrument for data collection in public administration. However, it has become widely accepted in the last decade that the usage of a self-reported instrument to measure both the independent and dependent variables results in common source bias (CSB). In turn, CSB is argued to inflate correlations between variables, resulting in biased findings. Subsequently, a narrow blinkered approach on the usage of surveys as single data source has emerged. In this article, we argue that this approach has resulted in an unbalanced perspective on CSB. We argue that claims on CSB are exaggerated, draw upon selective evidence, and project what should be tentative inferences as certainty over large domains of inquiry. We also discuss the perceptual nature of some variables and measurement validity concerns in using archival data. In conclusion, we present a flowchart that public administration scholars can use to analyze CSB concerns.

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Keywords common source bias, common method bias, common method variance, self-reported surveys, public administration
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Journal Review of Public Personnel Administration
George, B.R.J, & Pandey, S.K. (2017). We Know the Yin—But Where Is the Yang? Toward a Balanced Approach on Common Source Bias in Public Administration Scholarship. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 37(2), 245–270. doi:10.1177/0734371X17698189