Public Administration

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1467-9299
Discipline: Political Science
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Aims and scope

Public Administration, founded in 1922, is a major refereed journal with global circulation and global coverage. The journal publishes articles on all facets of public administration, public policy and public management. The editors are especially interested in papers that deal with major administrative challenges that generate theoretical advances and provide substantive insights.



Recent publications
Flow diagram of the search strategy
The capacity of public sector of co-creating with other stakeholders is challenged by the increasing presence of disruptive turbulent events, such as the COVID-19. At this regard, robustness has been identified as a suitable response to deal with this kind of events. Through a systematic literature review, we analysed how public sector organisations have co-created with other actors during the COVID-19 and what have been the contribution of robust governance strategies. Our findings point firstly to the empirical validity of the robustness concept, providing evidence of the extensive use of robust governance strategies into the co-creation processes. Secondly, we identified a configurational approach to robustness, with governments co-creating by simultaneously employing several robust strategies. Thirdly, we observed a more active involvement of societal stakeholders, with emergence of proto-institutions and potential threats to the political system.
Recent years have seen a ‘wave’ of national climate assemblies, which bring together randomly‐selected citizens to deliberate and make recommendations on aspects of the climate crisis. Assessments of the legitimacy of these interventions and their capacity to improve climate governance have focused on their internal design characteristics, but the fundamental question of how they are integrated into complex constellations of political and policy institutions is underexplored. This article constructs a framework for understanding their integrative design characteristics, drawing on recent work on ‘robust governance’. The framework is used to explore the connection of six national‐level climate assemblies with political institutions, public debate and civil society. Our findings highlight immense variety in the integrative design of these climate assemblies. This variety challenges the view of assemblies as a standardised object with predictable effects on legitimacy and governance capacity, whilst also refining deliberative systems theory’s highly abstracted conceptions of integration and impact. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The comparisons of researchers' KMb activities between relational capital groups and institutional support groups. Panel a: Responsiveness to knowledge. Panel b: Knowledge acquisition. Panel c: Knowledge dissemination.
Knowledge mobilization (KMb) takes a programmatic approach to empower and motivate scholars to connect research with policy‐making through disseminating research to knowledge users, acquiring information from practitioners, and responding to the acquired information. The present study aims to investigate the influence of institutional‐level factors on researchers’ KMb activities. One hundred fifty‐five researchers in the field of public administration across China participated in an online survey study. The participants reported their KMb activities, perceived institutional support, and relational capital. The results demonstrate that both the strength of institutional support and relational capital are positively associated with researchers’ KMb activities. Moreover, the effect of institutional support tends to be stronger when an institution has more relational capital. The study highlights that research institutions should take programmatic approaches to empower their researchers to be actively involved in the knowledge co‐production process and make a systematic effort at the institutional level to build a well‐developed collaborative network. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
An ethical imperative of publicness [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Perceived organizational publicness in an integrated conceptual space
Organizational publicness is a foundational construct for public administration. It has largely been conceptualized deductively and focuses mostly on the macro‐ and meso‐levels of analysis, leaving under‐explored how public employees perceive it at the micro‐level. Through a grounded theory analysis of state government employees’ interview data, this study aims to uncover public officials’ perceptions about organizational publicness. We find that participants’ perception of organizational publicness is a composite of five themes: four represent the core meanings of felt organizational publicness, essentially reflecting a cultural/ethical perspective (purpose, value, behavior, and outcome), and one represents the context of the meanings (external environment). Linking the dimensions with the literature and publicness at other analytical levels, we discuss the findings’ implications. We emphasize that employee perceptions of organizational publicness play an important role in achieving realized publicness. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Increased reliance on automated systems in government raises important questions about the impact of these systems on program participation. We look at the relationship between an automated application process and program participation through a representation lens. From a representative bureaucracy perspective, we examine whether gender representation increases participation intentions compared to interacting with an automated system. We also consider a political dimension of representation, investigating whether interacting with an automated system increases participation intentions among those whose policy preferences do not align with program goals. While we do not see differences based on gender representation in our survey experiment, we do find evidence that an automated system leads to greater willingness to participate among those whose policy preferences do not align with the program. These results provide insight into when automated systems may influence participation, suggesting a potential positive role among those who are not politically favorable towards a program. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
COVID‐19 represents a turbulent problem: a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous crisis, in which bounded‐rational policymakers may not be able to do everything right, but must do critical things right in order to reduce the death toll. This study conceptualizes these critical things as necessary conditions (NCs) that must be absent to prevent high early mortality from occurring. We articulate a policy‐institution‐demography framework that includes seven factors as NC candidates for high early COVID‐19 mortality. Using necessary condition analysis (NCA), this study pinpoints high levels of a delayed first response, political decentralization, elderly populations and urbanization as four NCs that have inflicted high early COVID‐19 mortality across 110 countries. The results highlight the critical role of agility as a key dimension of robust governance solutions—a swift early public‐health response as a malleable policy action—in curbing early COVID‐19 deaths, particularly for politically decentralized and highly urbanized countries with ageing populations. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Today the world is confronted with dual crises: creeping and acute threats unfolding at the same time—for example, the manifestation of extreme weather events such as drought and flooding and the creeping crisis of climate change. To cope with dual crises, this article develops a novel temporal perspective that offers policy actors a repertoire of interrelated strategies for enhancing the robustness of institutional efforts. The repertoire consists of five temporal strategies that policy actors can use to navigate the twin challenges of immediate and latent threats in conjunction: strategic coupling of short‐term shocks and creeping crises, crafting time horizons, molding the pace of public problem‐solving, mobilizing anticipatory capacity through futuring techniques, and adaptive iteration of policy decisions. We illustrate the practical application of these strategies in an exploratory case study of adaptive water management in the Netherlands. Samenvatting De wereld wordt geconfronteerd met duale crises: sluipende en acute dreigingen op hetzelfde moment, zoals extreme weersgebeurtenissen als droogte of watersnood tegelijkertijd met de sluipende crisis van klimaatverandering. Om te reageren op duale crises, ontwikkelt dit artikel een nieuw repertoire van vijf temporele strategieën voor beleidsmakers om de robuustheid van overheidssystemen te vergroten. Dit repertoire bestaat uit de volgende strategieën: strategische koppeling van onverwachte korte termijn schokken en sluipende crises, tijdshorizonnen creëren, het tempo aanpassen van implementatie, het mobiliseren van anticiperende capaciteit door middel van scenariotechnieken, en de adaptieve iteratie van beleidsbeslissingen. We illustreren de werking van deze vijf strategieën aan de hand van een uitgewerkt voorbeeld van adaptief watermanagement in Nederland: de invoering van het programma Ruimte voor de Rivier.
Turbulence appears to be a ‘new normal’ in current societies, and public organizations need to learn how to react and adapt to it. Scholars agree on the need for robust actions to respond to turbulence. Through a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) performed on the vaccination campaigns of all 20 Italian regions, our paper explores whether different and alternative models of robustness may exist to cope with turbulence. Results shed light on three alternative models featuring a static, hybrid and dynamic robustness. They also highlight that robust governance appears to involve a capacity to learn, and to employ this learning as circumstances demand. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Revenue breakdown of nonprofits under study. Source: Self‐made. [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
The increasing reliance on commercial income in the nonprofit sector (“nonprofit commercialization”) in various countries has become a highly contested topic. In recent years, Chinese nonprofits have also paid growing attention to commercial activities and revenue. However, empirical studies on the commercialization of Chinese nonprofits are limited. This study conducts the first empirical research to examine the scope and antecedents of nonprofit commercialization in China. Through a nationwide survey of 336 service‐delivery nonprofits (private nonenterprise organizations), the study finds that Chinese nonprofits' overall level of commercialization is modest, but the level varies substantially by organization. Further, informed by resource dependence theory, institutional theory, and organizational ecology theory, the study finds that Chinese nonprofit commercialization is driven by resource insufficiency, government connections, and environmental munificence. These findings extend the literature on nonprofit commercialization with new empirical evidence from a non‐Western, authoritarian context. 摘要 在许多国家,非营利部门对商业收入的日益依赖已经成为一个备受争议的话题。近年来,中国的非营利组织也开始重视商业活动以及随之带来的服务收入。然而,关于中国非营利组织商业化的实证研究并不多见。本研究首次实证分析了中国非营利组织商业化的规模和驱动因素。根据对全国336家服务性非营利组织(民办非企业单位)的定量分析,本研究发现中国非营利组织的商业化水平总体上是适中的,但是不同组织间的商业化水平存在较大的差异。此外,结合资源依赖理论、制度理论和组织生态学理论,本研究发现,组织内部资源匮乏、一定程度的政治关联和丰沛的外部资源环境是中国非营利组织商业化主要的驱动因素。这些基于非西方、威权国家情境的经验证据拓展了非营利组织商业化的相关文献
Communication professionals are increasingly found within government ministries. Based on classic work on bureaucracy and recent literature on mediatisation and personalization, this article develops two ideal types: the government information provider and government spin doctor. These ideals are constituted by six dimensions: recruitment criteria, values, loyalties, reputational concerns, interactions and tasks. A study of nonpartisan communication professionals in Norwegian ministries is used to illustrate the empirical relevance of the ideal types. The analysis shows that for loyalties and reputational concerns, Norwegian communication professionals resemble the government information provider. Regarding interactions and tasks, they resemble the government spin doctor. For recruitment criteria and values the picture is mixed. The empirical application thereby illustrates a fruitful aspect of the framework as certain configurations will bring forth inbuilt tension in communication professionals’ role. The framework allows a fine‐grained approach to extend ongoing debates of appropriate and inappropriate practices of communication professionals in ministries. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Policy support matters for the success of public policies. It is still unclear how governments can garner support for policies with high costs. Using a conjoint experiment in China, we demonstrate that governments can encourage policy support by offering institutional services and material interests to policy targets. In particular, citizens become more willing to support policies when governments timely disclose policy information and respond to and incorporate their voices in the policy design. Government subsidies in both the short and long runs also increase citizens’ policy support. In addition, government transparency and long‐run subsidies are complementary to enhancing policy support; the role of institutions is strengthened when citizens are exposed to severe policy problems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Possible modalities of elected representatives' cultural environments
In this article, we develop a theoretical framework for investigating how organisational culture relates to the roles of elected representatives. Based on Douglas’s grid and group logic, our framework evaluates two cultural dimensions, negotiability and conflictuality, upon which these roles depend. The negotiability dimension describes elected representatives’ roles from a strictly hierarchical and bounded notion of how politics should be handled to a horizontal and inclusive notion. The conflictuality dimension considers politics as confrontation versus a deliberative consensus‐oriented way of handling political issues. By investigating a participatory governance measure called ‘task committees’, we examine how the framework functions empirically. Our analysis shows how different aspects of organisational culture are reflected in councillors’ interpretations of and practices related to this interactive participatory governance scheme and illuminates the implications of organisational culture for the use of such schemes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Moral foundation theory derived reference scale
Decision tree coding protocol for step two: weight the influence
New Public Governance theory increases citizen participation and expands bureaucrats’ roles in the work of government. Citizen participation creates new mechanisms for citizens to influence the policy process. Bureaucrats’ expanded roles allow for broader bureaucratic discretion over policy implementation. When citizens' and bureaucrats' views on public management decisions collide, whose views prevail? Do citizen volunteers or bureaucrats have greater influence over public decisions? We answer this question by studying the U.S. Department of Energy's initiative to engage citizens in environmental clean‐up decisions. We assess ten years of meeting records and administrative decisions using a three‐step, mixed‐method analysis to identify, weigh, and test the influence of citizen participation and bureaucratic discretion. The results indicate that while citizen participation matters, bureaucratic discretion has a more significant influence over administrative decision‐making. The findings expose holes in New Public Governance theory, which has implications for democracy and demands deeper thought into structuring citizen participation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Policies are continually subjected to turbulence and crises. Interest in policy robustness as a fundamental way to deal with what cannot be foreseen is increasing. Thus, there is a flourishing stream of literature suggesting that policies need to be designed to be agile and flexible. However, the associated characteristics remain undeveloped. This article fills this gap by drawing on lessons obtained from the unplanned behaviours that were adopted in the management of the COVID‐19 pandemic. Individual and organisational behaviours characterised by outside the box thinking, improvisation and fast learning yielded solutions to unexpected problems. In this article, some of these emblematic unplanned behaviours are assessed, and the research builds on the literature on policy robustness, crisis management, and organisational theory to identify three enabling conditions to design more robust policies: coordinated autonomy, training for unplanned responses, and political institutional capacity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Number of publications published in social science journals (2000–2021). Web of Science (Social Sciences Citation Index)—search terms: Search #1: Privatization or contracting out. Search #2: Corporatization or municipal companies or municipal corporations or municipal enterprises [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
The corporatization of public services by moving services previously provided in-house into various types of arms-length corporate forms of organization is becoming an important trend at multiple levels of government. Although the use of such corporate forms to deliver public services is not a new phenomenon, evidence on the impact of corporatization on public services provision is only slowly emerging. In this symposium, we aim to advance our understanding of the theoretical and practical implications of corporatization through empirical analyses of its dynamics in a range of different settings. In this introductory article, we begin by explaining what is meant by the corporatization of public services and the different forms that it can take, before summarizing the existing evidence on the governance, accountability and performance of corporatized public services. We then describe the articles included in the symposium and conclude by outlining a future research agenda for studying corporatization.
The “mix” of (selected) English health policies in relation to hierarchy, market, and network
Recent health care reforms in England, combined with financial austerity, have accelerated both corporatization and commercialization in the English National Health Service (NHS) and this has encouraged greater public sector entrepreneurialism (PSE). We advance this argument by examining the meaning and experience of corporatization in this sector, illustrating our argument with qualitative data from a specialist hospital at the forefront of this trend. We demonstrate how the policy and practice of corporatization is entangled with increased commercialism and how this shapes more entrepreneurial conduct from staff. Framed in terms of the recursive relationship between organizational dynamics and individual behaviours, we focus empirically upon the shifting epistemic boundaries associated with increased corporatization, describing the dissonant effects of these shifts upon individuals, their attempts to compartmentalize, and the ethical dilemmas that result. Through this case we draw conclusions about the emerging impact of corporatization, commercialization, and public sector entrepreneurialism across public services. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Public corporations created in Canada since 1990. “Prairies” includes Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. “Maritimes” includes New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Public corporations have grown in popularity over the last 30 years, but the conditions that lead governments to create them are still debated. In this study, we draw on an original dataset of public organizations at the federal and provincial levels in Canada to test the prevalence of corporatization and the conditions associated with the creation of public corporations. Our results show that corporatization has been an important phenomenon in Canada over the last 30 years, but that the creation of public corporations is not associated with pressures on public finances or favored by right‐wing governments. Our main finding is that the creation of public corporations is mainly associated with administrative capacity. Our results suggest that corporatization may be more a pragmatic exercise in state‐building than an ideological or New Public Management (NPM)‐driven project, but that its cost or complexity may make it more accessible to larger administrations. Le recours aux corporations publiques a gagné en popularité au cours des trente dernières années, mais les conditions qui amènent les gouvernements à faire ce choix restent à préciser. Dans cette étude, nous nous appuyons sur des données originales aux niveaux provincial et fédéral au Canada pour tester ce qui explique le choix de la corporatisation. Nos résultats montrent que celle‐ci a été un phénomène important durant cette période. Nous constatons toutefois que la création de corporations publiques n'est pas associée à des raisons de finances publiques ou à la présence de gouvernements de droite, mais surtout à la capacité administrative des administrations. Nos résultats suggèrent que la corporatisation est moins un projet idéologique qu'un choix pragmatique visant le renforcement et la construction de l'État, mais que son coût ou sa complexité peuvent rendre cette approche plus accessible aux plus grandes administrations.
reports descriptive statistics and data sources for all variables. T A B L E 1 Descriptive statistics
Corporatization—arguably as important as privatization regarding public service reform—remains an under-researched topic in Public Administration. In this paper, we explore the extent to which the implementation of different types of corporatization strategies can be explained by the ideology of the ruling party in the Spanish public healthcare sector, selected for study because this sector was subject to reform, particularly, decentralization and marketization. To do so, we use count-data regression models to analyse secondary data from the 17 Spanish regional governments for the period 2003-2017. Our estimates reveal that right-wing controlled regional governments exhibit a clear preference for corporatization strategies that actively involve the private sector, such as Public-Private Partnerships and Public Finance Initiatives. Further analysis suggests that left-wing governments are positively associated with the implementation of corporatization strategies that do not involve the private sector, such as the creation of Public Enterprises and Public Entities. These results are robust to a variety of alternative specifications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Figure A1: Executive tenure survival function
Corporatization has potentials for public service provision but also induces far‐reaching governance challenges. Appointing executives for public corporations is a powerful personnel governance mechanism for public authorities to manage public service provision and resource dependencies. However, the theoretical understanding of executive turnover is limited. Drawing on resource dependence theory and embedding publicness fit perspectives, Cox regressions for 491 executives of 275 German municipal corporations between 2006 and 2016 show that politicized executives, executives with higher pay, and internally hired executives have a longer tenure and a lower turnover likelihood. Furthermore, the findings reveal different governance rationalities between different corporation forms by showing a higher likelihood of executive turnover in not profit‐making corporations than in profit‐making corporations. This highlights the theoretical needs and potentials to conceptually differentiate between these two corporation forms in future research. Overall, this study enhances the theoretical understanding of executive turnover and provides important research perspectives. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Descriptive baseline results. N = 3702 (1234 respondents × 3 vignettes)
Baseline treatment effects. GLS random effects with robust standard errors, Šidák‐adjusted p values for multiple comparison, 95% confidence intervals. N = 3702 (see online Appendix Table 5 Model 1). GLS, generalized least squares
Conditional treatment effects. GLS random effects with robust standard errors, Šidák‐adjusted p values for multiple comparison, 95% confidence intervals. N(face‐to‐face) = 1243, N(SST) = 1226, and N(App) = 1233 (see online Appendix Table 5 Model 2a, 2b, and 2c). GLS, generalized least squares
Heterogeneous treatment effects. GLS random effects with robust standard errors, Šidák‐adjusted p values for multiple comparison, 95% confidence intervals. Expectation N(low) = 1434, N(medium) = 1341, N(high) = 927, gender N(female) = 1857, N(male) = 1845, age N(18–35) = 876, N(36–55) = 1638, and N(56+) = 1188 (see online Appendix Table 5 Model 3a, 3b 3c, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, and 5c). GLS, generalized least squares
Although digital interfaces are increasingly pervading public administration, little is known about how replacing face‐to‐face interaction with digital interfaces affects citizens’ satisfaction with public service encounters. This study presents evidence from a vignette experiment conducted on a sample of German citizens (N=1.234) whereby we randomly varied the type of public‐service request with regard to its psychological costs, service quality, and the type of interaction (face‐to‐face, self‐service terminal, or app). We found that replacing face‐to‐face communication with a digital interface has no effect on citizens’ satisfaction, nor does it mitigate the effect of psychological costs, service failure, and recovery. Corroborating previous research on service recovery, we find that explaining and apologizing partially compensates for failure. Based on these results, we conclude that using digital interfaces does not undermine the goal to enhance citizen satisfaction with public services. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Autonomy of municipally owned companies depending on degree of agentification and number of owner municipalities [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Corporatization implies disintegration of public authority, leading to not only structural but also cultural differentiation of government, transforming it into a fragmented and hybrid governance system consisting of an authority and multiple autonomous or semi‐autonomous operators. This article addresses corporatization at the local government level in Norway, exploring if and how this change in formal structure triggers the emergence of separate cultures in the operator entities. Described as an institutionalization process, new norms, cognitions and identities seem to develop in these entities, creating a sense of ‘us’ (the municipal company) and ‘them’ (the municipality), thus strengthening the regulative separateness through normative and cultural‐cognitive elements. Findings from our multiple‐case study indicate that this process may be relatively fast and strong, transforming local government into a system comprising various hybrid types, especially segregated and assimilated types. The stronger the structural differentiation is, the stronger cultural differentiation seems to be.
How can regulatory agencies with a technical or scientific mission forge and defend their reputation, when the technical and scientific content of their work is subject to countervailing influences and perceptions among a wide array of audiences? In this paper, we tackle this broad question, focusing on a particular episode of the European controversy over the regulatory control of exposure to Bisphenol A, during which the European Food Safety Authority altered the method by which it produced an assessment of the risk of BPA, responding to the regulatory controversy surrounding this substance. Building on the literature on organizational reputation and science and technology studies, we shed light on the work that regulatory agencies undertake to gain credibility in particular cognitive configurations of audiences. This perspective on the management of audiences and knowledge standards is central for the explanation of the decisions, policies and strategies of science‐based agencies, and the way in which a technical reputation takes form in controversy‐prone areas of regulation.
Swelling numbers of citizen complaints received by Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau.Source: Guangzhou Environmental Protection Yearbook 2010–2018, Year‐end Summary of Environmental Protection in Guangzhou 2010–2018
Timeline of empirical data collection and several major institutional changes and critical events [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Enforcement officials' coping strategies evolve with changes in job attitudes, work situations, and institutional support. As the institutional context becomes more challenging with stronger performance management and transparency pressures, enforcement officials are less likely to move toward regulatees. Besides, in a more challenging context, officials with higher pay satisfaction and societal support are more likely to move toward regulatees. Yet officials are consistently less likely to move toward regulatees if they receive fewer resources or more government support. These correlations are supported by results from two rounds of surveys with environmental regulatory enforcement officials in China. Our interviews and archival documents helped unearth changes in institutional contexts and enforcement activities between and after our two surveys. This study advances a dynamic view of coping among street‐level bureaucrats by showing how changes in institutional contexts may reshape the motivational bases of coping strategies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This paper sets out an archival account of events leading up to the mass agencification of the British civil service by the Thatcher administration (1979‐1990). This account holds lessons for contemporary understandings of the ideological roots and institutional structures of corporatisation. When Thatcher came to power in 1979, she wanted to make government “efficient” through the adoption of “business‐like” practices. We show that this project was grounded in her Methodist upbringing and the emerging neoliberal economic theories of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Thatcher's efforts to instil a “market mentality” were met with stubborn resistance from a bloc of Ministers and senior civil servants. We find that Thatcher used agencification to break this resistance. Agencification removed Ministerial control over service delivery and saw “business‐like” managers placed in charge of the newly created agencies. This curtailed the workings of democracy. Like Thatcher's agencification, corporatisation today imperils democracy in pursuit of “efficiency”. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Overview of experimental procedures
Policy preferences per country
The effect of negative economic prospects on policy preferences per country
Marginal effects of negative economic prospects for different levels of political ideology
summarizes the mean values and standard deviations for politicians' preferences for the directive state,
This study investigates how the negative economic prospects of the COVID‐19 pandemic affect local government politicians’ policy preferences in The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Spain. The study examines to what extent politicians prefer increasing the role of government (directive state), transferring public tasks to private sector organizations (hollow state), transferring public tasks to third sector organizations (communitarian state), or downsizing and reducing the role of government without transferring tasks (coping state). The experiment primes decision‐makers on the pandemic’s negative economic prospects vis‐à‐vis its impact on health and wellbeing. When negative economic prospects are emphasized, the study finds decreased preferences for a directive state and increased preferences for a coping state. The study concludes that how decision‐makers interpret the nature of a crisis determines their preferred response: an emphasis on the negative economic prospects of the COVID‐19 pandemic is likely to increase preferences for renewed policies of austerity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
PRIMSA flow diagram [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Corporatisation, the conversion of state‐owned enterprises into semi‐autonomous, legally independent entities, has gained in popularity internationally since the 1980s. This review suggests that usage of the term has become entangled with other definitions of corporatisation, and other organisational reforms associated with new public management, and appears consequently to have lost its distinctiveness in many contemporary studies of corporatisation. Through a scoping review of literature on corporatisation of healthcare organisations internationally, we develop a typology of four perspectives on corporatisation (as managerialism of medical work, as institutional level reform to encourage market‐like behaviour, as corporate governance implications of legal independence, and as private sector colonisation) and analyse the specific processes, impacts, and mediators associated with each approach. This typology can aid conceptual clarity in future research on corporatisation and orient practitioners to particular management and policy questions within the complex field of reform signified by this term. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Recent years has seen dramatic growth to the study of frictions that individuals experience, especially in their interactions with the public sector, creating both the potential for new research opportunities and conceptual confusion. We seek to head off the latter by providing, in one place, a definition, description of the development, and comparison of four dominant conceptions of frictions: ordeal mechanisms, red tape, administrative burden, and sludge. In particular, we discuss the four concepts' definition and use in terms of their objectivity, distributive effects, object and domain, and deliberate design. The paper helps researchers to understand the overlap and distinctions between these concepts, and the role of public administration in these different traditions. Comparisons of the different approaches' thinking also suggest opportunities for mutual learning. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Services that are compulsory, depending on municipality population [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Public corporations have been constantly in the spotlight, with some commentators arguing that they can help governments provide better public services, and others insisting that their governance is simply too complex. Despite this ongoing debate, few studies have researched public‐corporation performance. The present study offers empirical evidence of the effects of various forms of corporatisation on public‐service costs. In particular, it examines public‐service costs incurred under four different forms of governance: public agencies, public corporations, mixed public corporations with minority public ownership, and mixed public corporations with majority public ownership. The analysis considers eight types of public services in 874 Spanish municipalities between 2014 and 2017. The empirical results show that services provided by public corporations are no less costly than those provided by public agencies. In fact, the services offered by mixed corporations with government majorities tend to cost more than those provided by public agencies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The theoretical chain of governance relationships involved in Dutch intermunicipal MOCs in private law and public law. Arrows denote steering/governance relationships, while the dotted arrows show steering/governance relationship that suffer from the multiple principal problem. In theory, this problem is limited to the direct relationships between the executive board of the local government and the supervisory board or owners' meeting of MOCs, but in practice, as we demonstrate in this article, the problem is more extensive. Informal relationships are not shown in this chart, but as we will later show, these play a large role in the actual governance of MOCs
While we have increasing knowledge of the causes and effects of municipal corporatization, we continue to know little about governance in municipally owned corporations (MOCs). However, the literature has provisionally pointed to various potential governance problems that can occur when MOCs are owned by multiple municipalities. We conduct 6 case studies into Dutch inter-municipally owned corporations was to understand coordination mechanisms between municipalities in governance and their consequences. We find a variety of coordination mechanisms in place that help bridge differences in interests between municipalities, and that in some ways, current governance mechanisms work well: there is high consensus and stewardship in MOCs, regardless of contextual factors. However, negative consequences of coordination mechanisms in MOCs are still observed. Particularly, direct contact between MOCs and municipalities appears to cause problems. Direct contact between MOCs and municipalities causes information asymmetries between municipalities, and confuses the governance role of aldermen in the shareholders’/owners’ meeting, with negative effects for accountability. The role of aldermen is further confused in public law, where municipalities are not allowed to instruct their aldermen to vote a certain way and aldermen therefore have a conflict of interest. Moreover, interventions by municipal councils in the governance of MOCs can reduce trust between municipalities in all levels of governance. For practitioners, we recommend strongly to find ways to clarify the role of aldermen in MOCs. For academics, we emphasize the importance of further cross-country research to increase our knowledge of governance of (inter-)municipally owned corporations.
Heuristic evaluation is one of the most important methods used to assess user interface usability. It involves experts or professionals using a set of heuristics such as Nielsen’s heuristics to identify usability problems on user interfaces of information systems. A number of studies have been conducted to customize heuristics for specific domains of information systems to ensure the identification of usability problems that are specific to the domains. In the e-government domain, there is a limited number of studies on the customization of heuristics for e-government websites and applications, meaning an existing need for additional research on this topic. In this study, usability heuristics for Saudi e-government websites were customized. To test the effectiveness of these heuristics, ten experts conducted a heuristic evaluation using the customized heuristics and Nielsen’s heuristics for identifying usability problems on five Saudi e-government websites selected from different sectors. Five experts used the customized heuristics and the other five used Nielsen’s heuristics. The results of using the two sets of heuristics were compared. In general, the analysis showed that using customized heuristics is more effective in finding usability problems on Saudi e-government websites than using Nielsen’s heuristics. User testing on the five Saudi e-government websites was also carried out with the aim of comparing the results of the user testing and the heuristic evaluation using the customized heuristics. The results proved that the use of heuristic evaluation is more effective in finding minor and moderate usability problems while using user testing is more effective in finding critical usability problems. Based on our results, we recommend the use of the two methods (heuristic evaluation based on the customized heuristics, and user testing) to assess the usability of Saudi e-government websites.
Intense turbulence means that parameters change, interdependencies unexpectedly become critical, and public organizations experience unpredictable tempo shifts. Existing studies have explored how public managers can exercise leadership specifically aimed at obtaining dynamic resilience, but more knowledge about leadership and turbulence intensity is needed. Combining existing theoretical knowledge about robust governance in turbulent times with broad empirical examples and in‐depth analysis of 31 interviews, we examine how public managers exercise professional development leadership in situations where events, demands, and support interact in variable, inconsistent, unexpected, and unpredictable ways. We find it highly relevant for public managers to both develop and (de)activate professional norms and knowledge in such situations, implying that professional development leadership is important in turbulent times. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Expectancy disconfirmation with performance model. Adapted from Van Ryzin (2004). Coefficients are from Van Ryzin (2013): unstandardized regression coefficients shown, with standardized coefficients in parentheses. Model R² = 0.26; sample size n = 905; **p < 0.05, ***p < 0.01
Experiment design. Panel a = Hong Kong, Panel b = Shenzhen. Note that based on what you have read about TC/A, how would you rate your expectations for the district council/government's performance? (1 = very low expectations to 7 = very high expectations). Test of difference in means for Hong Kong: t = −10.59, df = 990, p < 0.001; test of difference in means for Shenzhen: t = −4.54, df = 1226, p < 0.001
(a) Mean expectations ratings by group. How would rate the cleanliness of city streets in TC/A? (1 = poor to 7 = excellent). Test of difference in means for Hong Kong: t = −36.03, df = 990, p < 0.001; Test of difference in means for Shenzhen: t = −32.37, df = 1226, p < 0.001. (b) Mean performance ratings by group. Unstandardized regression coefficients are shown, with standardized coefficients in parentheses. Hong Kong Model R² = 0.45; sample size n = 992. Shenzhen Model R² = 0.51; sample size n = 1228. *p < 0.10, **p < 0.05, ***p < 0.01
Regression‐based path analysis. Based on the cleanliness of TC/A, how satisfied would you be with the district council/government's performance? (1 = very dissatisfied to 7 = very satisfied). For both Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the performance main effect is significant (p < 0.01) but the expectations main effect and the interaction effect are not (see Table 1 for the statistics)
Graph of satisfaction ratings by experimental arm
To better understand citizen satisfaction with public services, public administration research has adopted the expectancy‐disconfirmation model in recent years. This model proposes that satisfaction is a function of perceived performance and expectations. Recent quantitative and experimental studies of the expectancy‐disconfirmation model have supported the framework. However, few replications have been conducted and none outside western contexts. We conducted two narrow, robust experimental replications of Van Ryzin (2013, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 32(3), pp. 597–614) in the Chinese cities of Hong Kong (in 2017) and Shenzhen (in 2021). We found support for the findings reported in Van Ryzin (2013) and concluded that the expectancy‐disconfirmation model holds promise in a variety of settings as a framework for measuring citizen satisfaction with public services.
The study of ideas and crisis in public policy and administration has generated two literatures with shared interests, but often distinct approaches. In this Symposium introduction, we argue that crisis studies and the ‘ideas school’ have much to learn from each other. To facilitate cross‐pollination, this article reviews key insights from the two literatures with relevance across the divide. In our view, crisis studies offer important parameters that can help realise some of the ambitions expressed in the ideas school, such as how different crises and crisis stages affect opportunities for institutional and policy change. Similarly, ideational studies show new ways for crisis scholars to approach coherence in coordination among crisis actors, network information, and public communication. We conclude by assessing the contribution of the three Symposium papers to drawing new links between the fields and suggest future avenues for research. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The theoretical model
Number of agreements between Norway and the EU, by year, 1973–2018Source: Norwegian Government (2019)
Accumulated number of agreements between Norway and the EU, 1973–2018Source: Norwegian Government (2019)
This study carries two distinct contributions to extant literature. Theoretically, it introduces an organizational approach to the study of public governance. Empirically, it demonstrates how the organizational architecture of government represents a stable and systemic capacity for public governance across time. The study establishes how stability serves as an enduring feature of public governance and how this is anchored in the organizational architecture of government systems. Moreover, structured flexibility is illustrated by how the civil service adapts to both international organizations and societal stakeholders. Theorizing the organizational dimension of public governance, this study also introduces a design tool that may be useful for deliberately (re)structuring public governance. Empirically, these arguments are probed by a sizable data‐set with 13,173 observations across 40 years, consisting of 9 surveys of civil servants at ministry and agency levels. The data enables a long‐term perspective on government civil servants over nearly half a century, thus allowing for a comprehensive study of the organizational basis for public governance. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Types of audiences
Accountability‐seeking to whom?
Accountability‐seeking behaviours of public agencies are said to be motivated, among others, by attempts at pre‐empting stricter mandatory provisions, logic of appropriateness motives, Machiavellian opportunism, reputational considerations and a perceived need to compensate for the inadequacy of traditional arrangements. However, we do not know when a particular rationale, or a combination thereof, prevails. This study therefore examines how public agencies seek accountability, to whom and for what reason. Relying on data from 15 interviews with top‐level managers/directors and 75 survey responses, it demonstrates that the type of audience to whom the account is rendered is a key explanatory factor as to why specific mechanisms become “activated”. This study furthermore uncovers why certain rationales are associated with specific types of audiences. Thus, rather than a “holy grail” of one set of driving motivations, our study suggests, one should look at the audience to understand why a public agency seeks accountability. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
A dynamic process of robust crisis communication
Percentage of COVID‐19‐related tweets posted by state governors per day. Each dot in the figure represents one state. The color of the dot indicates the phase the state was in on that particular day. The black line shows the average percentage of COVID‐19 tweets for all governors per day
Crisis communication robustness for messaging topics across states and pandemic phases. Each dot represents one state. The color of the dot indicates the phase the state was in at that time
Crisis communication robustness for messaging sentiment and interaction across states and pandemic phases. Each dot represents one state. The color of the dot represents the phase the state was in at that time
Drawing on recent research on robust governance, we conceptualize robust crisis communication as a dynamic process centered on evolving public communication demands. We propose a three‐dimensional measurement for empirically examining the robustness of government crisis communication in the context of the COVID‐19 pandemic. We collected 43,642 Twitter messages posted by 50 state governors in the United States from January 1 to June 30, 2020. We applied machine learning algorithms to code the voluminous Twitter data based on messaging topics, sentiments, and interactions. This study found an overall low level of robustness in the governors' crisis communication. Governors most frequently posted reputation management tweets, followed by tweets about the government's handling of the pandemic. This research presents empirical evidence for the heavy influence of politics on governors' crisis communication strategies and highlights the need to understand and build robust crisis communication. 摘要 本文借鉴稳健性治理的最新相关研究,提出稳健性危机沟通的概念,将其界定为聚焦于满足危机中持续变化的公众沟通需求的动态沟通过程与模式。基于此概念,本文以新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情中的危机沟通为例,构建三维测量方法,用以检验政府危机沟通在内容主题、情感表达和对话互动三方面的稳健程度。本文收集美国50个州长在2020年1月1日至2020年6月30日期间发布的43,642条推特信息,并应用机器学习对所有信息的主题、情感和互动特征进行编码分析。本文发现美国州长危机沟通的稳健性程度总体偏低。美国州长最经常发布与声誉管理相关的推文,其次是政府的疫情防控措施。文章进一步阐释与例证政治因素对州长危机沟通策略的深刻影响,并强调政府部门理解与践行稳健性风险沟通的必要性与重要性。
The public sector frequently confronts a heightened societal turbulence triggered by an increasing number of unpredictable and disruptive economic, political and environmental crises. How can the public sector respond to this challenge? This article argues, first, that to continue to provide relevant solutions, public governance must be robust in the sense of adapting and innovating policies, programs and services in ways that facilitate the achievement of basic public ambitions, functions and values in the face of challenges, stressors and threats. Second, to build robust governance, public managers must engage in bricolage and become bricoleurs in order to flexibly combine elements from competing and co‐existent public governance paradigms. Doing so necessitates the construction of institutions conducive to bricolage, i.e. institutions that are characterized by a high degree of flexibility that allows for experimentation; institutions that foster inclusive deliberation, knowledge sharing and joint learning; and institutions that balance centralization with distributed agency. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Public administration is a discipline with considerable history, and is also a diverse, interdisciplinary field in social science. To analyze its evolution, discover the present research foci, and predict future development trends, this study applied scientometrics visualization technology to evaluate over 72,000 scientific articles from the 1920s to 2020s. This research referred to the SSCI and JCR databases to gather scientific data of the discipline and the journals’ impact factor. Consequently, paper citations, cited journals, journal co‐citations, author co‐citations, authoritative papers, top countries, productive institutes, average references, and research collaboration trends were analyzed on the bases of the published literature. This study found top productive journals in the discipline, discovered productive countries and institutes, present the research foci, and predicted future development trends. Through this study, scientific production, international cooperation, and knowledge evolution mode of public administration research offers a clear knowledge map of the public administration discipline. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
In this article we inquire to what extent different manifestations of trust are associated with public support for evidence informed policy making (EIPM). We present the results of a cross‐sectional survey conducted in the peak of the second COVID‐19 wave in six Western democracies: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland and the United States (N = 8’749). Our findings show that public trust in scientific experts is generally related to positive attitudes towards evidence‐informed policy making, while the opposite is the case for trust in governments and fellow citizens. Interestingly, citizens’ assessment of government responses to COVID‐19 moderates the relationship between trust and attitudes towards EIPM. Respondents who do rather not trust their governments or their fellow citizens are more in favor of EIPM if they evaluate government responses negatively. These findings suggest that attitudes towards EIPM are not only related to trust, but also strongly depend on perceived government performance. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Value destruction (evolved from Grönroos & Voima, 2013)
Public services do not always create value. Rather, when poorly organized and/or delivered, they can destroy value and make service users’ lives worse. However, such ‘value destruction’ is presently weakly conceptualized in public management theory. Consequently, this paper is devoted to the empirical examination of value destruction and hence its conceptualization. At the heart of the paper, we recognize the multiplicity of public value and private value objectives in complex public service environments and the dyadic tension between these two value constellations. Drawing upon qualitative data derived from public carbon reduction projects, we establish a conceptual framework. This framework accounts both for the types of value destruction and for the tension between public and private value. Subsequently, the framework disentangles the value destruction concept into four categories: value ignorance, value disproportion, value backlash and value exploitation. Finally, the implications of this new conceptual framework for public management theory and practice are explored. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Type I highly static incremental policy processes
Type II self‐correcting static robustness or resilience
Dynamic robustness
Policy tools are chosen and deployed in the expectation that they will continue to work effectively over extended periods of time. This is a tall expectation to meet, given that the nature of policy problems and their contexts change constantly. To continue to operate effectively in the face of these changes and respond to policy feedback from policy actors and outputs, policy mixes must be robust. This robustness is of two types: static robustness in which policy means adapt while policy goals remain unchanged, and dynamic robustness in which both goals and tools change. The first equates robustness with resilience – that is, the ability to bounce‐back to a previous state and attain original goals in altered contexts caused by some change in internal or external conditions. The second, however, is more complex as it can involve changes in aspects of policy goals as well as means in order to allow policies to adapt more broadly by altering their form in response to changing circumstances. This second type of “dynamic robustness” focuses attention on the need for agility and upon the requisites for the creation of policy designs which allow for substantive changes in form as well as state. The article lays out these concepts and their interrelationships and the kinds of procedural and other tools involved in achieving either. It illustrates their features and differences using examples from different sectoral cases. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Open government data (OGD) are critical for environmental justice (EJ) policymaking, which is characterized by power and information asymmetries across government agencies, affected populations, and advocacy groups. We contend that not only should state governments provide OGD but also they should remove the burden associated with data access and use it to address the data divide and facilitate the participation of vulnerable populations in policymaking. Applying a user‐oriented approach, this article evaluates the completeness, usability, and accessibility of EJ‐OGD initiatives across the 50 US states. Results show that only one out of five states achieves at least half points on our EJ‐OGD Implementation Score, suggesting that most states do not provide OGD to answer two core EJ questions: “To what extent is my community exposed to environmental harm and health hazards? Is the exposure disproportionately high given my community's socioeconomic characteristics?” We discuss implications for equity and next steps for the government.
Journal metrics
6 days
Submission to first decision
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$3,650 / £2,400 / €3,050
4.013 (2021)
Journal Impact Factor™
5.1 (2021)
Top-cited authors
Christopher Hood
  • University of Oxford
Chris Skelcher
  • University of Birmingham
Vivien Lowndes
  • University of Nottingham
George A. Boyne
  • Cardiff University
Erik Hans Klijn
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam