Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: The Effects of Race and Gender Repertoires on Citizens' Evaluations of Bureaucratic Decision Outcomes

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 2:25 PM
Ibis (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Barry Bozeman1, Marla Parker2 and Justin M. Stritch1, (1)Arizona State University, (2)California State University, Los Angeles
The individual citizens that public agencies and administrators serve are important, but often overlooked, actors in today’s public management and administration research. Despite being an integral part of both public administration and governance in democratic societies, few scholars have examined how individual citizens perceive, evaluate, and respond to the actions or decisions of public administrators in various administrative situations. This is especially true with respect to bureaucratic decision making that is related to the distribution of public goods and services—either with respect to various benefits or the enforcement of regulatory policies.

To gain a better understanding of how different citizens are likely to evaluate, react, and respond to the actions of  public administrators, we will draw on the psychological and behavioral sciences.  Specifically, we will examine the role of an individual’s understanding of race and gender—or race and gender repertoires—in shaping their evaluation of fairness in various administrative scenarios. While the extant public management literature has examined discretion and biases in both administrative decision processes (e.g. Christensen, Szmer, & Stritch, 2012), as well as in the distribution of public goods services (e.g. Tummers & Bekkers, 2014; Wenger & Wilkins, 2009), relatively little is known about how citizens’ biases and decision heuristics rooted in their understandings of race and gender might affect their experience with government agencies and interactions with public administrators.   This study will use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to conduct behavioral experiments on a population of citizens in order to better understanding of how citizens might perceive, evaluate, and respond to various administrative actions.  

Our study will make several important contributions to the extant public management and policy implementation literatures.  First, this study uses extant behavioral and decision science to better understand an understudied aspect of public management:  Citizens’ understandings of and reactions to their encounters with public employees. Second, the results will provide important to nuance to how we as scholars understand citizen evaluation of their personal interactions with public administrators.  Finally, our findings will help public managers understand sources of both skepticism as well as trust from citizens.