Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 2018-07-19T02:01:51+00:00 Sebastian Jilke Open Journal Systems <p><em>Journal of Behavioral Public Administration (JBPA)</em> is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary open access journal that focuses on behavioral and experimental research in public administration, broadly defined.&nbsp; JBPA encourages submissions of both basic scholarly and applied work conducted by academics or practitioners.</p> Editorial 2018-07-19T02:01:50+00:00 Sebastian Jilke Kenneth J. Meier Gregg G. Van Ryzin 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## How best to nudge taxpayers? The impact of message simplification and descriptive social norms on payment rates in a central London local authority 2018-07-19T02:01:50+00:00 Peter John Toby Blume <p>Behavioral insights or nudges have yielded great benefits for toda's public administrators by improving the quality of official messages and increasing revenue flows. In the absence of a large number of studies suitable for meta-analysis, less is known about the external validity of these interventions, their range of impact, and the exact matching of the behavioral cue to the client group and context. Factorial designs and repeated interventions, as in the study reported in this article, can add insight through respectively comparing interventions and analyzing their impacts over time. This randomized controlled trial tests whether simplification and/or a descriptive social norm can increase payment of local taxes in a central London local authority. In the first wave, a factorial design on a targeted group of residents, simplification increased the number of people paying by four percentage points, whereas the social norm did not change behavior. In wave two of the study, which was carried out across all households, the descriptive social norm backfired, reducing the rate of payment. The heterogeneous nature of the target population and the exact wording of the social norm are discussed as possible reasons for these results.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Putting social rewards and identity salience to the test: Evidence from a field experiment with teachers in Philadelphia 2018-07-19T02:01:48+00:00 Syon P. Bhanot Gordon Kraft-Todd David Rand Erez Yoeli <p>We partnered with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) to run a randomized experiment testing interventions to increase teacher participation in an annual feedback survey, an uncompensated task that requires a teacher's time but helps the educational system overall. Our experiment varied the nature of the incentive scheme used, and the associated messaging. In the experiment, all 8,062 active teachers in the SDP were randomly assigned to receive one of four emails using a 2x2 experimental design; specifically, teachers received a lottery-based financial incentive to complete the survey that was either "personal" (a chance to win one of fifteen $100 gift cards for themselves) or "social" (a chance to win one of fifteen $100 gift cards for supplies for their students), and also received email messaging that either did or did not make salient their identity as an educator. Despite abundant statistical power, we find no discernible differences across our conditions on survey completion rates. One implication of these null results is that from a public administration perspective, social rewards may be preferable since funds used for this purpose by school districts go directly to students (through increased expenditure on student supplies), and do not seem less efficacious than personal financial incentives for teachers.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Bureaucrats' processing of organizational reputation signals 2018-07-19T02:01:50+00:00 Sharon Gilad Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom Michaela Assouline <p>Notwithstanding the significance of a positive bureaucratic reputation, the average bureau functions amidst deep-rooted public hostility. Bureaucracy bashing presumably weakens public sector employees' commitment to their bureaus, which is known to undermine public sector performance. Motivated by these concerns, this paper investigates whether exogenous signals regarding a bureau's reputation affect the organizational attachment - identification and commitment - of its employees, and the variation in employee responses. Employing an experiment at an Israeli welfare bureaucracy, we show that the organizational attachment of employees who feel central and influential within the bureau is unshaken, and even reinforced, in response to negative reputation signals. Conversely, employees who feel marginal and powerless are receptive to both negative and positive reputation signals. The implications of these findings are that public organizations can buffer their employees from the detrimental effects of negative reputation signals, yet by so doing they may shut out justified scrutiny and demands for change.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Public service motivation and ethical behavior: Evidence from three experiments 2018-07-19T02:01:48+00:00 Robert K. Christensen Bradley E. Wright <p>Public service motivation (PSM) research has grown rapidly in the last several decades, largely focused on the role of PSM in employment decisions and employee performance. More recently, researchers have raised the possibility that PSM may play a role in workplace ethical behavior. In this study we sought to empirically articulate this link with evidence from three experimental studies. Across three experiments our research fails to confirm the relationship between PSM and ethics. We measured ethics both attitudinally and observationally.&nbsp; We conclude that even if the null findings are due to sample characteristics or weaknesses in the priming intervention, the three studies reported here raise concerns regarding the ease with which one can influence behavior by "priming" PSM.&nbsp; PSM may increase ethical behavior but not always in ways that public managers and organizations can easily influence.</p> 2018-02-26T14:07:03+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Precise performance: Do citizens rely on numerical precision as a cue of confidence? 2018-07-19T02:01:48+00:00 Asmus Leth Olsen <p>Recent research suggests that precise numbers signal confidence and are more potent anchors. This idea runs counter to the emphasis on simplicity in the presentation of performance numbers found in performance management and measurement research. Regardless, political-administrative systems are dominated by numerical information when it comes to evaluating performance or setting future performance goals. This article presents a set of experiments that test how well the precision effect translates in a political-administrative setting (n=1,505). The findings provide no convincing evidence of a precision effect. Citizens' evaluation of performance numbers seem to be largely unaffected by the roundness or precision of their numerical value. This is the case even if the numerical information is presented without any explicit political cues or are framed as non-manipulative expert judgments.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Breaking bad news without breaking trust: The effects of a press release and newspaper coverage on perceived trustworthiness 2018-07-19T02:01:49+00:00 Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen Femke de Vries Wilte Zijlstra <p style="text-align: justify;">Can a government agency mitigate the negative effect of "bad new" on public trust? To answer this question, we carried out a baseline survey to measure public trust five days before a major press release involving bad news about an error committed by an independent regulatory agency in the Netherlands. Two days after the agency's press release, we carried out a survey experiment to test the effects on public trust of the press release itself as well as related newspaper articles. Results show that the press release had no negative effect on trustworthiness, which may be because the press release "steals thunder" (i.e. breaks the bad news before the news media discovered it) and focuses on a "rebuilding strategy" (i.e. offering apologies and focusing on future improvements). In contrast, the news articles mainly focused on what went wrong, which affected the competence dimension of trust but not the other dimensions (benevolence and integrity). We conclude that strategic communication by an agency can break negative news to people without necessarily breaking trust in that agency. And although effects of negative news coverage on trustworthiness were observed, the magnitude of these effects should not be overstated.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Foresighted outcome effect: A micro-foundation of agents' risk aversion in principal-agent relations 2018-07-19T02:01:49+00:00 Michal Livnat-Lerer Raanan Sulitzeau-Kenan Tehila Kogut <p>Agents' risk aversion is a long-standing source of concern in principal-agent theory and in the practice of organizations. While standard principal-agent theory assumes that principals adequately infer conclusions from noisy outcomes, behavioral research suggests that their inferences are affected by outcome bias. We take a further theoretical step, and propose that when an agent knows that the principal's evaluation of the agent's decision will be based on outcome knowledge, the agent expects the principal to be overly affected by the outcome, rather than by the merit of the choice. As a result, the agent seeks to minimize the likelihood of an adverse outcome, leading to risk aversion. The results of three laboratory experiments support this hypothesis, suggesting that under outcome-knowledge-based principal-agent relationships, agents anticipate the effect of outcome bias on principals, and adjust their ex-ante behavior by opting for less risky alternatives, a phenomenon we call <em>foresighted outcome effect</em>.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Chief executives' approval of immigrants: Evidence from a survey experiment of 101 Latin American and Caribbean mayors 2018-07-19T02:01:49+00:00 Claudia N. Avellaneda Johabed G. Olvera <p>Several countries worldwide have experienced increasing immigration waves. Studies have explained immigration attitudes mainly in terms of cultural threats and material self-interest. However, scarce attention has been given to chief executives' empathy toward the causes of migration, the impact of which may be moderated by the size of the migration wave. We test these propositions on data drawn from a survey-experiment using 101 Latin American and Caribbean mayors as subjects. Mayors were presented with hypothetical situations in which they had to approve or reject an experimentally manipulated number of immigrants. The cause of their migration was also manipulated by randomly presenting mayors a number of immigrants due to either an earthquake (natural disaster), a civil conflict, or an unspecified cause (control group). Findings show 79 percent of mayors approved immigrants regardless of the cause. Mayors are more likely to approve immigrants when the migration cause is stated. However, mayoral approval of immigrants due to disasters is not statistically different from mayoral approval of immigrants due to civil conflict. When the size of the immigration wave increases, mayors are still more likely to accept immigrants due to natural disasters, but less likely to accept immigrants due to civil conflict. Interestingly, South American, Caribbean and Central American mayors tend to be more empathetic toward immigrants than their Mexican colleagues.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## A great schism approaching? Towards a micro and macro public administration 2018-07-19T02:01:51+00:00 Donald Moynihan <p>As an emerging field, behavioral public administration (BPA) has spurred important new research, documenting human biases and heuristics in public sector contexts. In doing so, it has embraced Herbert Simon's call to draw from psychology to understand administrative behavior. &nbsp;To fulfill its potential, BPA should also pursue another goal of Simon: a normative aspiration toward design science, using its powerful analytical techniques to solve, and not just document, real administrative problems. Another challenge for BPA is understanding where it fits in the constellation of public administration research. One critique of BPA is that a focus on micro-level behavior leads to a neglect of big questions that were once central to public administration. But this tension may also signal the possibility of a productive division of labor, with a micro and macro public administration that addresses distinct questions, but which are connected by common research concepts</p> 2018-02-22T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Human behavior inside and outside bureaucracy: Lessons from psychology 2018-07-19T02:01:49+00:00 Asbjørn Sonne Nørgaard <p>Both Herbert A. Simon and Anthony Downs borrowed heavily from psychology to develop more accurate theories of <em>Administrative Behavior</em> outside and <em>Inside Bureaucracy</em>: Simon, to explicate the cognitive shortcomings in human rationality and its implications; and Downs, to argue that public officials, like other human beings, vary in their psychological needs and motivations and, therefore, behave differently in similar situations. I examine how recent psychological research adds important nuances to the psychology of human decision-making and behavior and points in somewhat other directions than those taken by Simon and Downs. Cue-taking, fast and intuitive thinking, and emotions play a larger role in human judgment and decision-making than what Simon suggested with his notion of bounded rationality. Personality trait theory provides a more general and solid underpinning for understanding individual differences in behavior, both inside and outside bureaucracy, than the 'types of officials' that Downs discussed. I present an agenda for a <em>behavioral</em> public administration that takes key issues in cognitive psychology and personality psychology into account.</p> 2018-02-26T00:00:00+00:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement##