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.

Public managers make equity-efficiency trade-offs

In this article in Public Administration Review, Marcos Fernandez-Gutiérrez and I analyse the positions of top public officials on an equity‐efficiency trade‐off and the determinants of those positions. We use data from the COCOPS Top Public Executive Survey. Results show that differences in public officials’ positions on equity‐efficiency are related to the context in which they work and to their personal background. Read more here or check the free preprint.

Prosocial compensation & service failure

When a public (or private) service fails, how do you want to be compensated as a citizen? Does a charity donation on your behalf work? In this paper with Leliveld, Thomassen and Ahaus in the Journal of Business Ethics we launch the concept “prosocial compensation” and run a series of experimental tests. Full paper ‘Prosocial compensation following a service failure: Fulfilling an organization´s ethical and philanthropic responsibilities’. Free preprint here.

Managerial autonomy and politicization

Public sector reforms aimed at ‘making the managers manage’ granted public managers autonomy and tried to depoliticize the administration. In this new paper in IRAS, we show that top public managers perceive different levels in the extent to which politicians try to influence senior-level appointments, as well as in the extent of management autonomy (see figure) that they have (preprint version via Lirias).


managerial autonomy index

Chapter Routledge Companion to Trust

Nadine Raaphorst and I have a chapter in the new Routledge Companion to Trust, looking at trust in the public sector. We distinguish between two trust relationships. One is that of citizens in the public sector. The other is that of the public sector in citizens. We  first look at signals and evidence that trust is changing. Then, we discuss initiatives aimed at increasing trust and reducing distrust between citizens and the public sector, both at the institutional level, and at the level of specific encounters between citizens and public services or public servants. We end by formulating a research agenda. A preprint is available here.

Explaining citizen (dis)satisfaction with public services

This chapter (preprint here) reviews current scholarship on satisfaction with public services and in particular the mechanisms and theories to explain such satisfaction. Differences between objective performance and subjective evaluations are discussed, as well as the impact of a halo effect in attitude formation and of direct user experience with service. Special attention goes to the expectancy disconfirmation model of satisfaction. The chapter does not only look at satisfaction as an attitude but also at voice and exit behaviours from which satisfaction or dissatisfaction can be inferred.