Normative and Real Institutions

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


    Traditionally, a distinction is made between a descriptive or empirical part of the science of public administration on the one hand, and a prescriptive or normative part on the other (Van Braam 1986: 607–609). The descriptive or empirical part consists of analyses and explanations of facts, whereas the prescriptive or normative part is primarily directed at evaluating phenomena in order to contribute to the improvement of public governance and administration. At the same time, a distinction is made between empirical and normative aspects of the object of the science of public administration: public administration itself. This double usage of the distinction is already confusing in itself. Matters become even more confused when this usage is related to the different possible answers to the following questions:
    1. Is it possible to make descriptive, as well as normative scientific statements about factual aspects of public administration?
    2. Is it possible to make descriptive, as well as normative scientific statements about normative aspects of public administration?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPolitical Institutions and Public Policy
    Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives on European Decision Making
    EditorsBernard Steunenberg, Frans van Vught
    Place of PublicationDordrecht
    PublisherKluwer Academic Publishers
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Electronic)978-94-015-8603-0
    ISBN (Print)978-90-481-4818-9
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


    • Governance
    • Government
    • Policy
    • Political science
    • Politics

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  • Cite this

    Ruiter, D. W. P. (1997). Normative and Real Institutions. In B. Steunenberg, & F. van Vught (Eds.), Political Institutions and Public Policy: Perspectives on European Decision Making (pp. 67-81). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.