Steven Van de Walle

Steven Van de Walle
KU Leuven | ku leuven · Public Governance Institute

PhD

About

188
Publications
230,400
Reads
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5,265
Citations
Introduction
A public management scholar with an interest in public sector reform, public service delivery, attitudes, and interactions between citizens and bureaucrats
Additional affiliations
September 2016 - present
KU Leuven
Position
  • Professor
May 2008 - August 2016
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Position
  • Professor
April 2006 - May 2008
University of Birmingham
Position
  • Lecturer

Publications

Publications (188)
Article
Increasing the cost of participation : red tape and public officials’ attitudes toward public participation Red tape is seen as a destructive organizational force that reduces public officials’ motivation and curtails organizational performance. By increasing the time, cost, and effort required to inform the public and coordinate participation, red...
Article
Demonstration projects have been widely used to demonstrate new technologies and practices to stimulate broader deployment and implementation. Apart from this technical and explicit function, demonstration projects also serve social and implicit functions that have received limited attention. This study examines the ways in which demonstration proj...
Article
Governance preferences influence how public officials process performance data about service providers. Based on motivated reasoning theory, we examine the extent to which local delivery preferences – preferences for contracting with local service providers over contracting with non‐local ones – influence public managers’ and politicians’ interpret...
Article
This article investigates the factors that account for variation in the use of policy instruments for steering NPOs across Chinese provinces. Drawing on instrument choice theory, this article advances a theoretical framework that links government capacity and contextual complexity to variation in government instrument choice. Pooling five-year data...
Preprint
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Participatory budgeting is fast becoming a popular form of public participation. Public managers play an important role in organizing and implementing participatory budgeting. Their role perceptions affect whether they use their discretion to limit or increase residents' say in participatory processes. However, we know little about public managers'...
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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 procuremen...
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Research on public managers’ attitudes towards local public participation has expanded rapidly during the past two decades. Studies show that public managers’ attitudes towards public participation play an important role in the success of participatory practices. However, there is a lack of systematic evidence on determinants of public managers’ at...
Article
Governments do not exclusively buy from the cheapest bidder and increasingly use public procurement as a policy instrument to achieve wider environmental, innovative and social objectives. Past studies have shown the process of government contracting to be connected to political factors. This paper studies the extent to which politicians’ preferenc...
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Public service producers are heavily investing in the development and implementation of more efficient new digital channels to engage users in citizen sourcing efforts, such as the reporting of public service-related issues. Nevertheless, user-reporters have continued to favor earlier implemented channels including traditional (e.g., phone, office)...
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We 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 e...
Preprint
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Red tape is seen as a destructive organizational force that reduces public officials’ motivation and curtails organizational performance. By increasing the time, cost, and effort required to inform the public and coordinate participation, red tape has also been said to reduce public officials’ positive attitudes toward public participation. However...
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Public administration reforms have propagated the use of private sector management skills in the public sector, and an increased openness to managers with a private sector background. This has created a debate between those who think private sector experience improves public institutions by bringing core managerial values such as results orientatio...
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Government–nonprofit relations in China have transformed over the past three decades. Building on policy instrument theory, this article explores which policy instruments have been used to steer nonprofits at the central level and how the use of policy instruments has changed over time. This article is based on a content analysis of 300 central-lev...
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We empirically 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) from a regional perspective. The paper fits a multilevel model on a unique dataset (N= 129,773) with observations nested in 173 European regions, us...
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Have New Public Management (NPM) reforms in public organizations improved the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of public policies? NPM reforms, understood as a style of organizing public services towards the efficiency and efficacy of outputs, have been controversial. They have been accused of importing practices and norms from...
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Prosocial compensation (PC) is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice that involves donating money to a charitable cause on behalf of customers as a means to compensate them for their loss after a service failure. In order to determine the effectiveness of PC, we carried out three experiments while also comparing its effectiveness within...
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The attitude of street-level bureaucrats towards their clients has an impact on the decisions they take. Still, such attitudes have not received much scholarly attention, nor are they generally studied in much detail. This article uses Breckler's psychological multicomponent model of attitude to develop a scale to measure street-level bureaucrats'...
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Classic street-level bureaucracy literature has suggested that individual bureaucrats are shaped by their work group. Work group colleagues can impact how bureaucrats perceive clients and how they behave toward them. Building on theories of work group socialization, social representation, and social identification, we investigate if and how the att...
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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, the authors conducted a survey‐based vignette experiment to examine how the input legitimacy of participatory processes affec...
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Management tools are often argued to ameliorate public service performance. Indeed, evidence has emerged to support positive outcomes related to the use of management tools in a variety of public sector settings. Despite these positive outcomes, there is wide variation in the extent to which public organizations use management tools. Drawing on nor...
Chapter
Van Dooren, Askim and Van de Walle describe the orientation of research on public sector performance since 1988, and especially the last 15 years, using Study Group 2’s call for papers and the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA) conference venues as lieux de memoires. Changes in orientation over time show how performance research connect...
Chapter
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Inspectors traditionally represented the hard hand of the state. They represent a powerful central government that has the power to enforce rules and levy fines. The interaction between an inspector and an inspectee is one characterized by unequal power and large uncertainty. At the frontline of government, inspectors combine their role of enforcer...
Preprint
Full-text available
Inspectors traditionally represented the hard hand of the state. They represent a powerful central government that has the power to enforce rules and levy fines. The interaction between an inspector and an inspectee is one characterized by unequal power and large uncertainly. At the frontline of government, inspectors combine their role of enforcer...
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This paper analyses citizen motives for not using electronic government services. Using qualitative interviews among users of Citizens' Service Centers in Latvia, this paper analyses the motives of citizens who do not use electronic government services but rely on non-electronic equivalents or on in-person assistance. It expands the literature on e...
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This article assesses the impact of New Public Management (NPM)-style reforms in European countries as perceived by top public sector officials. Using data from an executive survey conducted in 20 European countries, we look at the relationship between five key NPM reforms (downsizing, agencification, contracting out, customer orientation and flexi...
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This article presents an original research on the use of management tools in central government departments and agencies in 16 European countries. It is based on a survey conducted among senior managers (n = 5,998). The analysis shows that the use of management tools results from a combination of top-down implementation of a list of management tool...
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Public sector reforms aimed at ‘making the managers manage’ granted public managers autonomy and tried to depoliticize the administration. There is substantial variation in the degree of direct politicization and in managerial autonomy. This article tests four sets of hypotheses to explain variation in perceptions of direct politicization and manag...
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Comparative public administration studies the capacity of government and public actors to design and implement policies. This article in the JCPA anniversary issue discusses similarities and differences between comparative public administration and comparative public policy. It does so using the concept of policy capacity, a capacity that is suppli...
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Within the field of public administration, the experience with large-scale international comparative survey-based research is expanding. However, while such research might render extremely interesting data for comparison and analysis, such resource and time-intensive research bring also challenges, in terms of methodological risks, data quality iss...
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With citizens being considered customers, public administration scholars have become interested in explaining satisfaction with public services and studying the consequences of high or low satisfaction. This chapter reviews current scholarship on satisfaction with public services and in particular the mechanisms and theories to explain such satisfa...
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This article provides scholars studying frontline judgements an analytical framework – the signaling perspective – that could be used to examine how street-level bureaucrats evaluate unobservable citizen-client properties. It proposes to not only look at the kind of signals and cues officials gather, but also at the interpretive frames used to make...
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In line with psychological and economic discrimination theories, street-level bureaucracy studies show a direct effect of citizen characteristics on officials’ judgments, or show how street-level bureaucrats employ stereotypical reasoning in making decisions. Relying on sociological double standards theory, this study hypothesizes that citizen-clie...
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This article analyses the position of top public officials in an equity-efficiency trade-off, and the determinants of this position. It uses data from a survey across 14 European countries. The results show that differences in public officials' position on equity-efficiency are related to the context within which they work and their personal backgr...
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After a service failure, citizens expect a recovery strategy that restores perceived justice and places a reasonable value on their loss. Offering monetary compensation is a strategy commonly used in private settings, but less so in public settings. To date compensation effects have not been researched in public settings. To investigate citizens' e...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore and explain public preferences for different public procurement practices. The paper looks into public support for cost-effectiveness, discriminatory procurement in favour of domestic suppliers and sustainable procurement. Design/methodology/approach This study uses Eurobarometer public opinion data...
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The financial crisis forces public managers to implement cutbacks within their organization. We argue that adopting a change management perspective contributes to our understanding of cutback management by adding a focus on managerial behaviour regarding cutback-related organizational changes. Relying on change management literature, this paper dev...
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Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) approach, we conducted a systematic review of 58 public administration studies of organizational socialization. Organizational socialization is the process of mutual adaptation between an organization and its new members. Our findings demonstrate a growing but geo...
Chapter
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In their search for empirical credibility, public management researchers may look for topics that lend themselves more easily to experimental methods. That in itself is not surprising in a field that has only recently discovered experimental research. This chapter looks at how the use of experimental methods may change the questions asked in the fi...
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Historically, the European Commission has followed an expert-based depoliticized route to gain attention for policy issues and the credibility to deal with them. Given growing politicization, we ask whether the Commission might increasingly seek citizens’ views and whether there is patterned variation. We provide the first mapping of special Euroba...
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Performance information use by public managers depends on their trust in the source of such information. Using data from Chinese counties, this article proposes a model in which the production and use of performance information are separated. Performance information use by public managers is a tridimensional construct. Research findings demonstrate...
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Purpose This paper reviews the literature on public service failure and develops a research agenda for studying public service failure alongside private service failure. The general services management literature has devoted relatively little attention to public services, whereas developments in the private service management literature have not re...
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This chapter introduces the book on theory and practice of public sector reform. Many academic works on public sector reforms focus on a specific topic or analyze specific country cases. Other books try to compare across a specific region or take a specific theoretical approach to public sector reform. What was lacking was a book that could introdu...
Research
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Despite the salience of public administration reforms in Europe, there is surprisingly little systematic research identifying how and whether public sector reforms have been implemented, and with what outcomes. This introductory chapter introduces the topic of public administration reform, as well as the general approach and purpose of the book. Wi...
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In this exploratory study, we investigate whether public sector officials and non-public sector officials differ in the trust they have in members of society and whether this difference is associated with the welfare regime in which they work. Using survey data from the sixth round of the European Social Survey, we compare public sector officials'...
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This article uses bibliometric analysis to track the breadth and depth of the concept of New Public Management as it has developed in the 25 years since the coining of the term, in order to provide a deeper understanding of how academics have engaged with the subject. The article uses bibliometric and qualitative analysis to map the use of the conc...
Book
Based on a survey of more than 6700 top civil servants in 17 European countries, this book explores the impacts of New Public Management (NPM)-style reforms in Europe from a uniquely comparative perspective. It examines and analyses empirical findings regarding the dynamics, major trends and tools of administrative reforms, with special focus on th...
Research
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This chapter looks at the views public officials have of citizens, in particular their level of trust toward citizens’ ability, integrity and benevolence, when engaging in administrative interactions. Public officials’ trust is essential, in interactive governance, because it may stimulate the compliance and trust of citizens toward public administ...
Research
Full-text available
In their search for empirical credibility, public management researchers may search for topics that lend themselves more easily to experimental methods. This chapter looks at how the use of the experimental method may change the questions asked in the field of public management. Possible consequences are a focus on discrete interventions and margin...
Research
Full-text available
In their search for empirical credibility, public management researchers may search for topics that lend themselves more easily to experimental methods. This chapter looks at how the use of the experimental method may change the questions asked in the field of public management. Possible consequences are a focus on discrete interventions and margin...
Research
Full-text available
In their search for empirical credibility, public management researchers may search for topics that lend themselves more easily to experimental methods. This chapter looks at how the use of the experimental method may change the questions asked in the field of public management. Possible consequences are a focus on discrete interventions and margin...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter looks at the views public officials have of citizens, in particular their level of trust toward citizens' ability, integrity and benevolence, when engaging in administrative interactions. Public officials' trust is essential, in interactive governance, because it may stimulate the compliance and trust of citizens toward public administ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Public sectors have undergone major transformations. Public sector reform touches upon the core building blocks of the public sector: organizational structures, people and finances. These are objects of reform. This chapter presents and discusses a set of major transformations with regard to organizational structures. It provides readers a fairly c...
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Theories of blame suggest that contracting out public service delivery reduces citizens’ blame of politicians for service failure. The authors use an online experiment with 1,000 citizen participants to estimate the effects of information cues summarizing service delivery arrangements on citizens’ blame of English local government politicians for p...
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This introduction to the symposium on experimental methods in public administration shows how using experimental methods generates not only research that is empirically credible, but also relates to the real world of public administration. The ten articles in the symposium subject classic public administration theories or hypotheses that have been...
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Many studies on cutback management have suggested that cutbacks may have negative consequences for employee well-being in the public sector. However, the relationship between cutbacks and the work-related attitudes of top-level managers has received little attention. In this study, we assess the relationships between five commonly used cutback meas...
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This article explores the development of citizens’ trust in the police in the Netherlands and the relevance of police-citizen contact for trust in the police drawing data from the Dutch Integral Safety Monitor (IVm). This is a huge but underutilized dataset. The findings show that the police in the Netherlands are highly trusted by Dutch citizens....
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The choice-overload hypothesis states that increasing the number of alternatives reduces people’s motivation to choose. Possible adverse effects of choice overload in liberalized public service markets have been discussed repeatedly, however, an empirical evaluation of whether this holds true is missing. In this study, we extend and test the theory...
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The introduction of choice in public services, and in health services more specifically, is part of a wider movement to introduce consumerism in health care. We analyze how citizens perceive the availability of choice of primary care doctors in 22 European countries and the factors that influence their opinions using multilevel analyses and data fr...
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Research findings have been contradictory with respect to the determinants of why people choose a public sector job. In this article we use an internationally comparative design with data from 26 countries to explain public sector employment preference. The study shows that on the individual level, public service motivation and extrinsic motivation...
Article
Public opinion does not fall out of the sky. What passes for public opinion in the European Union is largely the answers of its citizens to questions posed in surveys commissioned and controlled by the European Commission. This paper presents the first systematic mapping of the topics and non-topics of the 400 so-called Special Eurobarometers: repo...
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In dit artikel onderzoeken we of de veronderstelde tweedeling tussen internationaal publiceren met een sterke focus op impactfactoren en praktijkgericht publiceren ook daadwerkelijk zichtbaar is in de manier waarop individuele Nederlandse bestuurs- en politieke wetenschappers publiceren. Het artikel biedt daarmee nieuw empirisch bewijs ter onderbou...
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There is an increasing interest to study public administrations, public managers or citizens interactions with, and views towards government from a comparative perspective in order to put theories to test using cross-national surveys. However, this will only succeed if we adequately deal with the diverse ways respondents in different countries, and...
Article
Extrinsic motivation, PSM and labour market characteristics: a multilevel model of public sector employment preference in 26 countries Research findings have been contradictory with respect to the determinants of why people choose a public sector job. In this article we use an internationally comparative design with data from 26 countries to explai...
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Policy responses to the global financial crisis can be divided into pro- and counter-cyclical approaches. The former advocates reducing public spending in times of financial constraints. The latter approach advocates public spending to boost the economy. Using public opinion (N=23,652) data from 27 EU member countries, we empirically test a model f...
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The degree to which different social groups get along is a key indicator of the cohesiveness of a society. This study examines perceptions of social cohesion amongst Europeans and explains variations in those perceptions by considering the separate and combined effects of economic strain and institutional trust. Analyses were conducted with the 27...
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Many organizations have introduced service charters to improve service quality and user satisfaction. However, this goal is not always achieved, with the literature showing both implementation successes and failures. In this article, we analyse the organizational enablers for the implementation of service charters using a concept mapping methodolog...
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Based on practices in commercial organizations and public services, healthcare organizations are using service charters to inform patients about the quality of service they can expect and to increase patient-centeredness. In the Netherlands, an integrated regional stroke service involving five organizations has developed and implemented a single se...
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Scholarship of trust in institutions has tended to see trust and distrust as opposites on one continuum. Theoretical advances have challenged this view and now consider trust and distrust as different constructs, and thus as constructs with different characteristics and partly different determinants. Current empirical research on trust in governmen...
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The measurement and comparison of the public administration output of universities is an important means for mapping the state of the field. However, such exercises are very sensitive to design choices made in the ranking and measurement methodology. Following an overview of existing research on journal reputation and quality in public administrati...