Strategic management during cutbacks in the penitentiary sector

In this new paper in Financial Accountability and Management, Eduard Schmidt and I analyse how public managers interact with external stakeholders during cutbacks. Relying on strategic management scholarship, we develop an argument on why public managers decide for a closed or an open cutback management strategy. In the former, they try to close off the process for external stakeholders, whereas, in the latter, they actively engage with external stakeholders. A multiple qualitative case study of cutbacks in the Dutch prison sector shows that the choice to actively engage with external stakeholders depends on public managers’ position within the organisational hierarchy, their perception of the stakeholder environment and their process goals.

Carrots and sticks

New paper with Zejin Liu in Voluntas on government steering of nonprofits and government-nonprofit relations, using policy instrument choice theory, and applied to Chinese nonprofit policy: “Understanding Policy Instruments for Steering Nonprofit Organizations in China: Only Carrots and Sticks?”

Trust in public administration in 173 European regions

jeprIn this new article in the Journal of Economic Policy Reform we study whether citizens´ trust in public administration is influenced by the outcomes delivered by public services or by due process (administrative impartiality or absence of corruption). We pooled Eurobarometer datasets into a single dataset (N= 129,773) with observations nested in 173 European regions. Postprint available here.

Input legitimacy and public participation

Public officials can be reluctant to use citizens’ input in decision‐making, especially when turnout is low and participants are unrepresentative of the wider population. Using Fritz Scharpf’s democratic legitimacy approach, we conducted a  vignette experiment. The study shows that turnout and participants’ representativeness have a positive and significant effect on public officials’ attitudes toward public participation. Specifically, participants’ representativeness influences public officials’ willingness to use citizens’ inputs more than turnout. Full paper on the Public Administration Review website.

The effects of NPM reforms

In this new article in IRAS, Gerhard Hammerschmid (Hertie), Rhys Andrews (Cardiff), Ahmed Mohammed Sayed Mostafa (Leeds), and I look at the relationship between five key NPM reforms (downsizing, agencification, contracting out, customer orientation and flexible employment practices) and four dimensions of public sector performance: cost efficiency, service quality, policy coherence and coordination, and equal access to services. We use data from a 20-country survey among top public executives. Results suggest that policy-makers seeking to modernize the public sector should prioritize managerial reforms within public organizations over structural transformations.

Why do public managers use management tools?

In this new paper in PAR – “Institutions or Contingencies? A Cross‐Country Analysis of Management Tool Use by Public Sector Executives” – Bert George, Gerhard Hammerschmid and I look into the wide variation in the extent to which public organizations use management tools. Drawing on normative isomorphism and contingency theory, this article investigates the determinants of both organization‐oriented and client‐oriented management tool use by top public sector executives in 18 countries. We show that contingency theory is a better explanation for this variation than is isomorphism.

New book! Inspectors and enforcement

With Nadine Raaphorst, I edited a new book that explores the social dynamics of the interaction between inspectors and their inspectees in the public sector.9783030040574 Using insights from public administration, regulation and sociology, this book looks at the daily work of a diverse group of inspectors such as tax inspectors, veterinary inspectors, school inspectors, environmental inspectors or health inspectors.

Signaling in bureaucratic interactions

In this article “A signaling perspective on bureaucratic encounters: How public officials interpret signals and cues” in Social Policy and Administration Nadine Raaphorst and I look at public officials’ interpretive frameworks to make sense of client characteristics. We use a signaling perspective and illustrate this to trustworthiness judgements made by social workers and police officers. Access the article or preprint here.