Experimental and quasi-experimental research designs have become more popular in social policy research, following the general trend in micro-economics and sociology of advocating social experiments as the main tool for studying causal effects. The strengths of a well-defined experiment are undeniable. Nonetheless, limitations also exists in terms of scalability, generalisability, inherent heterogeneity, the complexity of social policy programmes, and the political and ethical reality.
What are the types of questions that are relevant in social policy research? When are experiments in social policy research well motivated – or best avoided? Can all questions relevant to social policy research be answered (in practice and in principle) using experimental methods, or is there a continued need for other methods?
This expert workshop will combine keynote lectures with break-out sessions focused on the experiences of participants working with experimental or quasi-experimental designs in social policy research. Empirical applications in the field of social policy are welcomed, but main focus is on the applicability of social experiments. Each presenter will be asked to conclude with a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of applying their experimental method in social policy research.