Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 2020-07-13T16:33:20+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> Effectiveness of nudges on small business tax compliance behavior 2020-07-13T16:33:07+00:00 Laura Leets Amber Sprenger Robert Hartman Nicholas Kohn Juli Simon Thomas Chrissy Vu Sandi Aguirre Sanith Wijesinghe <p>There has been a surge of basic and applied interest in exploring how small changes in decision contexts might be used to improve heuristic decision-making, “nudging” decision-makers toward choices that increase individual and social utility. The present study tested the impact of three types of nudges on tax compliance among delinquent businesses (n=3,130) in the state of Pennsylvania: (1) sending reminder letters that almost identically matched original tax delinquency notices, (2) sending redesigned reminder letters that simplified text and layout, increased the salience of critical information, and included an “Act Now” urgency statement, and (3) sending redesigned reminder letters with handwritten notes on the envelope. Redesigned reminder letters significantly increased the number of business owners who responded and the amount of delinquency paid within 15 days of receiving the notices. The addition of a handwritten note on the outside of the envelope did not additionally increase response rates or payment amount. Although the effect sizes observed in this study were small, the potential impact is large given the number of delinquent businesses and the average amount of taxes owed in Pennsylvania.</p> 2020-07-12T22:30:36+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 How to encourage “Togetherness by Keeping Apart” amid COVID-19? The ineffectiveness of prosocial and empathy appeals 2020-05-25T15:36:27+00:00 Nathan Favero Mogens Jin Pedersen <p>The COVID-19 pandemic is a major challenge facing societies around the world. Citizen engagement in “social distancing” is a key containment measure for curtailing the spread of the virus. But what kind of information should governments use for encouraging social distancing compliance? Using data from a pre-registered survey experiment among US residents (n = 1,502), we examine how five distinct COVID-19 information cues—which each appeal to prosocial motivation and empathy in varying degree—affect people’s willingness to social distance. We find no significant differences across experimental conditions in terms of (a) the duration that respondents are willing to maintain social distancing, (b) intended social distancing behavior, or (c) COVID-19-related attitudes and beliefs. Our findings should not necessarily discourage decision-makers from priming prosocial motivation and empathy as means for promoting social distancing, but they do suggest a current need for more engaging medium than simple textual messages for such appeals.</p> 2020-05-24T17:05:46+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Rallying around the flag in times of COVID-19: Societal lockdown and trust in democratic institutions 2020-07-13T16:33:20+00:00 Martin Baekgaard Julian Christensen Jonas Krogh Madsen Kim Sass Mikkelsen <p>In times of severe international crises, such as wars and terrorist attacks, citizens tend to ‘rally around the flag’ and increase their support for political leaders. We ask if the rallying effects identified in the literature extend to the societal lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19-related lockdowns differ from crises studied in the existing literature because they are political crisis responses with severe and immediate negative effects on the economy. Using daily responses right before and after the announcement of the Danish lockdown on March 11, 2020, we study trust in democratic institutions among unemployed Danes over the first three weeks of a large-scale societal lockdown. OLS estimates show that trust in the Danish Prime Minister’s administration was higher immediately after the lockdown announcement. This increase lasted throughout the entire period of measurement (until the end of March). We find similarly increased trust in other institutions, most significantly the judicial system and the public sector at large, whereas findings for trust in parliament and the media are less clear. Interrupted time series estimates point to the same conclusions albeit they produce estimates with more noise. Overall, our findings are consistent with the idea that citizens tend to ‘rally around the flag’ in times of crisis and furthermore suggest that increased trust tends to spill over to institutions that are not involved in crisis management decisions.</p> 2020-07-12T18:14:07+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Do political donors have greater access to government officials? Evidence from a FOIA field experiment with US municipalities 2020-07-13T16:33:13+00:00 Nicholas R. Jenkins Michelangelo Landgrave Gabriel E. Martinez <p>Whether political donors have greater access to government officials is a perennial question in politics. Using a freedom of information act (FOIA) compliance field experiment with US municipalities in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, we fail to find evidence that political donors have greater access to government officials compared to engaged citizens. We contribute to the lobbying literature by testing for preferential treatment towards political donors in municipal government. Consistent with the extant FOIA literature, we do find that a formal FOIA request increases compliance rates and decreases wait time before an initial reply. This is an important contribution because, although many polities have FOIA laws, it cannot be taken for granted that FOIA laws will lead to transparency in practice. Testing the effectiveness of FOIA laws in the US is particularly important because state laws vary substantially.</p> 2020-07-12T22:24:26+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Emotional labor assessments and episodic recall bias in public engagement 2020-06-09T15:57:43+00:00 William G. Resh Cynthia Wilkes Carmen Mooradian <p>In a survey of local officials in Los Angeles County we test individual-level job-related assessments as a function of a public employee’s induced recall of discrete citizen engagement and one’s intrinsic prosocial motivation through a randomized survey experiment. We explore whether tangible retentions of public service influence the relationship between self-concepts—such as reported prosociality—and job-related assessments. We find that the relationship between self-reports of prosociality and pay satisfaction are contingent upon those concepts being decontextualized, whereas discrete recall bias appears not to affect emotional burnout. In other words, subjects seem to accept the emotional labor of engagement as part of their jobs. However, contextualizing engagement may make them more cognizant of its unremunerated dimensions; and, positive reinforcement of engagement provides encouragement to further engagement. Our findings make the case that emotional labor involves a skill set that employees implicitly recognize merits remuneration and that reinforcing positive engagement outcomes inspires employee motivation.</p> 2020-06-09T02:54:36+00:00 Copyright (c) 2020