Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 2021-01-03T18:56:10+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> Encouraging firms to adopt beneficial new behaviors: Lessons from a large-scale cluster-randomized field experiment 2020-12-29T04:59:43+00:00 Robert Tilleard Georgina Bremner Thomas Middleton Esme Turner David Holdsworth <p>Policymakers are interested in how to encourage firms to adopt beneficial new behaviors. In this study, we report on the results of an experiment to encourage firms to file their annual accounts electronically and on time. Our intervention involved UK firms filing their annual company accounts to an official registrar of companies. In a cluster-randomized controlled trial, we found behaviorally informed letters had no detectable effect on encouraging firms to file electronically. A letter using a social norm had a small (2.4%, p=0.053) effect on encouraging firms to file on time. The trial indicates behavioral science in this context has limited use in influencing firms to adopt new behaviors. We conclude more evidence is required to understand which behavioral interventions will have the most impact on influencing firm behavior in different contexts. </p> 2021-03-24T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 The pitfalls associated with more intensive engagement in collaborative forums: The role of behavioral spillovers and cognitive load 2020-09-17T00:34:12+00:00 Jack Mewhirter Danielle M. McLaughlin <p>Polycentric governance systems feature numerous decision-making venues (“forums”) where policy actors repeatedly interact to address a subset of policy problems. Previous studies find that forums where actors dedicate greater time and cognitive resources tend to be perceived as more effective. Drawing on behavioral game theory and the Ecology of Games, we argue that the improvements afforded to any one forum vis-à-vis more intensive participation may come at a cost: lower levels of perceived effectiveness in linked forums. We use survey data collected in the Tampa Bay (FL) and California Delta (CA) water governance systems to examine our contention. Using a series of spatial Durbin models, we find that perceived effectiveness of a given forum is directly impacted by the intensiveness by which actors participate in that forum (positive association). However, there are also behavioral spillovers: the intensity with which actors participate in other forums in the system has indirect negative consequences for perceived forum effectiveness.</p> 2021-03-29T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Compared to whom? Social and historical reference points and performance appraisals by managers, students, and the general public 2020-08-24T23:45:13+00:00 Amanda Rutherford Thomas Rabovsky Megan Darnley <p>Experimental studies in public administration often focus on samples of non-practitioner groups. In these cases, it is unclear whether findings from non-practitioner groups are generalizable to public managers. Some literature suggests that bureaucrats are likely to hold biases similar to the rest of the population while other research argues that bureaucratic expertise and training allow practitioners to make decisions in more strategic or rational ways. This study works within the literature of performance information to test for differences in responses to the same experiment among college students, citizens, and public managers in the context of U.S. K-12 education. Some differences were detected across groups, though results reveal largely similar findings which have implications for when and how scholars might rely on non-practitioner samples to consider the attitudes and behaviors of bureaucrats or elected policymakers.</p> 2020-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Public managers’ valuation of secondary policy objectives in public procurement – results from a discrete choice experiment 2020-10-19T23:55:19+00:00 Amandine Lerusse Steven Van de Walle <p>Governments are increasingly linking public procurement contracts to the attainment of secondary policy objectives. While not challenging the continuing dominance of price, this changes how service providers are selected. This study examines how public managers value environmental, innovative, and social goals against price in the public procurement of waste collection at the municipal level in Belgium. Using a discrete choice experiment, we study public managers’ valuation of secondary policy objectives. Additionally, to extend the external validity of our findings to different administrative structures, the same study has been replicated in three other countries (Norway, Germany, and Estonia). Although price remains crucial, we observe that public managers appear to be willing to pay more to increase the environmental, innovative, and social standards of public services. </p> 2021-02-22T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Additional intervention evidence on the relationship between public service motivation and ethical behavior 2020-08-09T21:23:06+00:00 Bradley E. Wright Robert K. Christensen <p>The nascent scholarship on public service motivation (PSM) and ethics exhibits mixed findings. This research article aims to describe and relate the current landscape of findings in this arena and to conduct an experiment that addresses design weaknesses that may explain some past null findings. Using a national sample of college-age respondents, we found that although self-reported PSM was positively correlated with ethical intentions, prosocial priming did not increase ethical intentions or behavior. We contextualize these findings in terms of previous studies, to inform our understanding of the efficacy of prosocial interventions. While our research suggests that self-reported PSM can predict, if not influence, ethical intention, we are unable to make conclusions about PSM’s effects on ethical behavior. Second, similar to past studies, we are not able to confirm specific mechanisms or interventions that might be used to increase ethical behavior or intentions.</p> 2021-02-04T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Editorial: Continuity and change 2021-01-03T18:56:10+00:00 Sebastian Jilke 2021-01-13T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Capturing the social relevance of government transparency and accountability using a behavioral lens 2020-12-15T04:35:07+00:00 Gregory A. Porumbescu Marcia Grimes Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen <p>The link between transparency and accountability is an often discussed feature of good governance. Despite a great deal of attention, this relationship remains poorly understood. We argue that the adoption of a behavioral lens to evaluate the impact of transparency on accountability offers new opportunities to discover novel mechanisms that contribute to a more systematic understanding of when and why increasing government transparency enhances accountability. Shedding light on such mechanisms not only promises to improve existing theory, but to also render transparency more meaningful to the applied world. To make this argument, we highlight findings from four articles that form the basis of this symposium issue and discuss avenues for further research.</p> 2021-02-03T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Administrative burden, social construction, and public support for government programs 2020-06-29T14:05:53+00:00 Jill Nicholson-Crotty Susan M. Miller Lael R. Keiser <p>Administrative burden imposes costs on citizens as they interact with government. A high level of administrative burden in programs is linked to negative outcomes for those engaging with the policy, such as reduced take-up. However, despite the negative effects, the mass public is often supportive of greater administrative burden for government programs, and research suggests that high levels of burden can increase favorability toward government social programs, at least for some individuals. However, research suggests that these attitudes may be affected by how target populations associated with programs are socially constructed. In this paper, we explore whether the effect of information about high and low administrative burden on program approval is influenced by the social construction of participants. Using a survey experiment, we examine how the relationship between burden and program attitudes differs across programs as well as across different types of applicants. Our results suggest the effect of burden on program approval varies by the social construction of program participants, providing insight into the role of social construction in the relationship between burden and support for government aid.</p> 2021-03-11T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 Good for you or good for us? A field experiment on motivating citizen behavior change 2020-08-24T18:17:11+00:00 Syon P. Bhanot <p>In recent years, public sector agencies have increasingly been moving citizen services online to reduce administrative burdens for citizens and costs for governments. However, motivating citizens to make the transition to online services can be difficult. In this paper, I report on a randomized control trial with the Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections Department, testing a letter intervention with 11,579 rental license holders designed to encourage them to register for an account and renew online. Subjects were randomly assigned to either a control group that did not receive a letter or one of three treatment groups: 1) Standard (a simple reminder letter); 2) Personal Benefits (a letter with added language emphasizing the reduced burden for citizens from online renewal); and 3) City Benefits (a letter with added language emphasizing the benefits to the city from online renewal). I find a statistically significant, positive effect of letter receipt on both online registration and renewal; for example, the treatment letters increased the probability of renewing at least one license online from 12.3% in the control to 20.4% for the treatments pooled together. Furthermore, the City Benefits letter was the least effective treatment, though there were only small differences between treatments. Finally, the letters were generally more effective for subjects not residing in Philadelphia, suggesting that “nudge” campaigns to reduce administrative burden may be most effective for those facing the highest burdens from in-person public service delivery.</p> 2020-12-29T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Citizen trust, administrative capacity and administrative burden in Pakistan’s immunization program 2020-08-30T20:40:51+00:00 Sameen A. Mohsin Ali Samia W Altaf <p>Pakistan has the highest infant mortality rate in South Asia, is one of two countries where wild polio is still endemic, and is ranked third for un- or under-immunized children. Why is this the case when considerable donor and government funds have been spent on Pakistan’s Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI)? Based on a year of mixed methods research in district Kasur in Punjab, Pakistan, we focus on vaccination as a site of interaction between citizens and the state and apply the concept of administrative burden to explain vaccine hesitancy in Pakistan. As immunization is a non-means tested program where the state approaches citizens expecting full compliance, we argue that learning, psychological, and compliance costs are exacerbated by the context in which parents interact with frontline bureaucrats. Citizens’ distrust of an often absent or coercive state and low administrative capacity (specifically overburdened staff, inadequate facilities, and rushed digitization) have a multiplier effect on administrative burdens imposed on parents of young children in accessing immunization programs. Therefore, attempts by the state to vaccinate citizens often exacerbate distrust, and limited capacity hinders the state’s ability to reduce the burdens experienced by citizens.</p> 2021-03-29T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 What makes us tolerant of administrative burden? Race, representation, and identity 2020-08-09T16:24:22+00:00 Donavon Johnson Alexander Kroll <p>This article connects the literatures of administrative burden with those of representative bureaucracy and group identity. We derive two hypotheses from extant scholarship that, adapted to the case of administrative burden, propose the following: Citizens will be more tolerant of burden if their race identity overlaps with that of the bureaucrat administering the burden, and if potential benefits are targeted at people who are similar to them. Using a survey experiment based on a stratified sample of 465 U.S. residents, we find little support for the hypotheses. In fact, while Black participants barely responded to the treatments at all, we see that white participants were most tolerant of burden when served by a white bureaucrat in a program that benefits Black clients. The article calls for more research on the subject to build nuanced theory, including contextualizing propositions across identity groups and drawing on additional theoretical ideas.</p> 2020-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Understanding the mechanisms of administrative burden through a within-case study of Medicaid expansion implementation 2020-09-08T14:32:42+00:00 Cheryl A. Camillo <p>The importance of the administrative burden problem in public programs has been apparent during the COVID-19 crisis in the United States as millions of newly unemployed people have had to wait for unemployment checks and public health insurance benefits due to paperwork requirements, agency staff shortages, and outdated information technology systems. The resulting burdens have extended financial hardship, caused the coronavirus to spread, and eroded citizen and agency morale. Administrative burdens have long been known to be costly, yet remain fixtures of public benefit programs across the world. To reduce them, we need to understand their mechanisms. Formal policy solutions per se will not reduce administrative burdens because they do not exist solely by design. This article contributes to behavioral public administration by providing a comprehensive, empirical-driven theoretical framework for understanding the complex processes through which supply-side administrative burdens are instituted, modified, and eliminated. Using a retrospective within-case study method that utilizes participant observation, documentation, and archival records, the article traces the process by which a state eliminated administrative burdens in the process of implementing an initially straightforward expansion of Medicaid eligibility, thereby creating a model for simplifying and streamlining enrollment that was incorporated into the Affordable Care Act.</p> 2021-02-01T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2021 The role of organized groups in administrative burdens of property taxation 2020-09-08T12:42:41+00:00 Iuliia Shybalkina <p>There is a substantial body of literature regarding the effects of administrative burdens on the take-up of safety-net programs and the role of organized groups in this process. I investigate similar issues in the context of property tax assessment appeals. Disadvantaged groups spend well over the recommended 30% of their income on housing costs that include property tax, and, on top of that, assessors often overestimate lower-value properties. Appeals may provide some relief, but the process can be burdensome. Certain localities give condominium associations the right to file one joint appeal on behalf of all unit owners. I hypothesize that this rule reduces burdens for condominium units and causes them to appeal more frequently than houses, resulting in a distributive effect that depends on the local context. I present supporting evidence from two case studies in two locations: New York City, which allows joint appeals, and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and surroundings), which does not. Thus, while administrative burdens can span diverse contexts, engaging a third party to assist potential beneficiaries consistently increases the take-up.</p> 2020-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Personality traits in citizen expectations towards public services 2020-08-04T15:02:08+00:00 Morten Hjortskov <p>Prior expectations are an important determining factor of how citizens evaluate politicians, government and public services. Typically, citizen expectations are divided into two main categories: predictive (“will”) expectations and normative (“should”) expectations. Theories of expectations say that predictive expectations are the sterile and indifferent prediction of future events, while normative expectations have a foundation in personal norms and values and express how the world should look according to the individual. Therefore, normative expectations should have antecedents more closely related to the individual’s personality than predictive expectations. However, these theoretical claims regarding the nature of the two different expectation types have not yet been tested empirically. Examining broad personality traits (Big Five) and The Maximizing Tendency trait, this exploratory study analyzes whether different personality antecedents explain the two types of expectations. Results show that the personality traits agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness correlate positively, and extraversion negatively, with normative expectations. None of the traits correlate with predictive expectations. These results have implications for politicians’ efforts to shape citizens’ expectations, the citizen satisfaction literature, including work considering the expectation-disconfirmation model, and for further research on citizen expectations.</p> 2020-12-23T00:00:00+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020