Does performance disclosure affect user satisfaction, voice, and exit? Experimental evidence from service users

Main Article Content

Peter Rasmussen Damgaard
Poul A. Nielsen

Keywords

Performance information, User satisfaction, Voice, Exit, Experiment

Abstract

An emerging literature in behavioral public administration shows that performance information affects the perceptions and choices of citizens vis-a-vis public services and programs. Methodologically, a significant share of these studies relies on hypothetical scenario experiments, or they focus on citizen assessments of broader government entities that citizens have little or no direct interaction with or personal information about. Yet, among actual service users, performance data is only one among many sources of information, potentially limiting its influence. Service users might also engage in motivated reasoning, for instance, by questioning the validity and relevance of inconvenient information about service providers they are otherwise happy with, or whom they are responsible for choosing. In this study, we conducted a survey experiment in the field, offering true performance data to service users, namely parents with children in public schools. We consistently find little or no evidence that performance information affects user satisfaction, intended voice and exit behaviors, incumbency voting, or goal prioritization. These findings question the feasibility of using performance information disclosure to affect the judgments and choices of service users, with potentially important downstream effects on the incentives facing public service providers.