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Laura Langbein Professor Department of Public Administration and Policy

Send email to Laura Langbein
(202) 885-6233
SPA - Public Admin and Policy
Kerwin Hall - 346
Tuesday, 2-6; Thursday 2-5
PhD, Political Science, University of North Carolina
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BA, Government, Oberlin College

Professor Langbein teaches quantitative methods, program evaluation, policy analysis, and public choice. Her research fields include: theories of bureaucratic discretion, productivity, principal-agent models, social capital, and cooperation in the workplace; theories of influence of interest groups in Congress and the bureaucracy; empirical applications in various policy areas, including the environment, education, defense, housing, criminal justice (death penalty and police), and corruption. Her articles have appeared in numerous journals on politics, economics, policy analysis and public administration. Her most recent publications examine the consequences of varying levels of discretion in federal agencies, and the persistence of street level bribery in many places in Latin America.
See Also
SPA Department of Public Administration and Policy
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Spring 2022

  • PUAD-604 Public Program Evaluation

  • PUAD-607 Econ & Politics of Pub Policy

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • Langbein, L., Soss, J., & Metelko, A. 2003. “Why Do White Americans Support the Death Penalty?” Journal of Politics 65(2):397-421.   
  • Langbein, L. 2003. "Bureaucratic Discretion." In Charles K. Rowley and Friedrich Schneider, eds., Encyclopedia of Public Choice, Vol. II Kluwer, pp. 53-58.   
  • Langbein, L., & Spotswood-Bright, K. 2004. "Private Governments: The Efficiency and Accountability of Residential Community Associations" Social Science Quarterly 85(3):640-659.   
  • Langbein, L. & Jorstad, C, 2004. “Trust and Productivity in the Workplace: Cops, Collusion, Communication, and Cooperation.” Political Research Quarterly 57(1):65-79.   
  • Langbein, L. 2005. "Controlling Residential Community Associations." Regulation Magazine.   
  • Langbein, L. 2005. “Public School Music: Notes on the Public Provision of a Quasi-Private Good.” Public Choice 121(1-2):83-98.
  • Langbein, L. 2008. "Management by Results: Student Evaluation of Faculty Teaching and the Mis-measurement of Performance." Economics of Education Review 27(4): 417-428.   
  • Langbein, L. & Knack, S. 2008. “The World Governance Indicators and Tautology: Causally Related Separable Concepts, Indicators of a Common Cause, or Both?" Policy Research Working Paper WPS4669, World Bank Development Research Group.   
  • Langbein, L. 2009. “Beyond Random Assignment for Internal Validity and Beyond Social Research for Random Assignment.” Invited Comment: Point and Counterpoint on the Role of Random Assignment in Social Policy Research. Journal of Policy Analysis And Management 28(1):173-174.   
  • Langbein, L. 2009. "Controlling Federal Agencies: The Impact of External Controls on Worker Discretion and Productivity." International Public Management Journal 12 (1): 82-115
  • Langbein, L. and Mark Yost 2009. "Same-Sex Marriage and Negative Externalities." Social Science Quarterly, 90 (2), June: 292-309.   
  • Langbein, L. and Kimberly Cowell-Meyers 2009. "Linking Women's Descriptive and Substantive Representation in the American States." Politics and Gender 5 (4), Dec.: 491-518.   
  • Langbein, L. and Steve Knack (2010). "The World Governance Indicators: Six, One, or None?" Journal of Development Studies 46 (2) Feb.: 350-370.   
  • Langbein, L. 2010 "Economics, Public Service Motivation and Pay for Performance: Complements or Substitutes?" International Public Management Journal 13 (1): 1-15.
  • Public Program Evaluation:  A Statistical Guide 2nd Ed. (M.E. Sharpe, Inc.), 2012.
  • “Ownership, Empowerment and Productivity: Some Empirical Evidence on The Causes and Consequences of Employee Discretion,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 19 (3), 2000:  427-449.  Reprinted in JPAM Classics of Public Management, 2012.
  • “Measuring ‘Women-Friendly’ Public Policy” (with Kimberly Cowell-Meyers). Journal of Women, Politics and Policy (34:2) April, 2013
  • “Vive La Difference! The Effects of Workplace Diversity on Job Performance and Employee Satisfaction” (with Ed Stazyk) International Public Management Journal 16, 4: Dec. 2013, lead article: 465-503.
  • “The Shape of Corruption: Colombia as a Case Study” (with Pablo Sanabria), Journal of Development Studies. 49 (11), Nov. 2013: 1500-1513. DOI:10.1080/00220388.2013.800858
  • “The Effect of Primary School Size on Academic Achievement” (with Seth Gershenson, first author), Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 37(1S): 135S-155S), May 2015
  • “Still No Evidence of Negative Outcomes from Same-Sex Marriage,” (with Mark Yost), Econ Journal Watch 12 (2),May 2015: 161-163.
  • “Performance Management, High Powered Incentives and Environmental Policies in China” (with Jaiqi Liang). International Public Management Journal 2015. DOI: 10.1080/10967494.2015.1043167. (Lead article, with special editorial commendation.)
  • “Independent Professional Bureaucracies and Corruption:  Evidence from Latin America” (with Pablo Sanabria), Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis  19(5) 435-451 (2017).  Available at
  • “Motivation Based Theories of Organization” (with Edmund Stazyk), Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy. Editor-in-Chief, Ali Farazmand, Nancy S. Lind, co-editors (Springer-Mete). (2017)
  • Laura Langbein & Edmund C. Stazyk (2017): The Anatomy of Retention in the U.S. Federal Government: Exit, Voice, or Money?, International Public Management Journal, DOI: 10.1080/10967494.2017.1325806
  • Laura Langbein,  “Bureaucratic Discretion in Public Agencies:  Principals, Principles, and Agents”, Chapter 9 in Handbook of Public Administration, Edmund C. Stazyk and H. George  Frederickson, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing.  2018 (July): 137 - 153.    
  • Jiaqi Liang and Laura Langbein, “Linking Anticorruption Threats, Performance Pay, Administrative Outputs, and Policy Outcomes in China”, Public  Administration, 2019, 97, 177-194.DOI: 10.1111/padm.12562
  • Laura Langbein, Jiaqi Liang and Michaela Bunemann (forthcoming, 2020). “Comparing the Effects of Changes in Performance Incentives and Implementation Activities on Policy Outcomes:  Evidence from Air Pollution Emissions in China.”  Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis.

Work In Progress

“Who Gets Bribed?  Social capital and street-level corruption in Latin America” (with Pablo Sanabria and Nicolas Acevedo Rebolledo) 

"Fact or Fiction:  The Social Effects of Same Sex Marriage" (with Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez and Jane Palmer; under review)

“Mincer Wages in the Public vs. Private Sector:  The Case of Nurses” (with Fei Wang) (in progress)

“Are State-Owned Enterprises Good Citizens?  Evidence from the Control of Air Pollution in China”  (with Jiaqi Liang) Conference Paper.  Presented by invitation at Beijing Forum, 2019.

“Do socially motivated bureaucrats reduce bribe requests?  The case of Colombia” Pablo Sanabria-Pulido, Nicholas Acevedo-Rebolledo, Laura Langbein, in progress.

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

Recipient, 2009 Accenture Advances in Public Management award, for “Controlling Federal Agencies: The Impact of External Controls on Worker Discretion and Productivity.”

International Public Management Journal 12 (1) 2009: 82-115.