Book Review Synthesis: Mobilizing Insights From Three Books


This case exposes students to important considerations in the formulation of a book review synthesis as a qualitative research method. It thereby demonstrates the value of creatively synthesizing secondary research, using works by different authors, in presenting new ideas toward confronting existing research questions. It is based on a book review synthesis published in the International Journal of Public Administration, which examined the contributions of three books that together encapsulated the difficulties, as well as the merits, of “independent budget offices” in wresting political control from politicians to create value for the public. As a result, the synthesis acted as a means of introducing a new lens (independent budget offices) to an existing debate (the politics–administration dichotomy) within a new literature (public administration). The case also considers the limitations of a book synthesis approach and suggests a rubric of guidelines on how to proceed in the deployment of this research method.

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