Panel Paper: Sector Bias and the Credibility of Performance Information

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 5 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Anna A. Amirkhanyan1, Jourdan A. Davis1, Kenneth J. Meier1 and Miyeon Song2, (1)American University, (2)Texas A&M University

The objective of this study is to explore the effect of perceived credibility of informational source on the perceptions of organizational performance, conditional on the level of reported performance and organizational legal ownership. Reporting information about organizational performance to the public is generally viewed as a tool for improving accountability and transparency. However, empirical evidence suggests that anti-public sector bias may discount good performance of government organizations. Fewer studies have explored how this phenomenon applies to the credibility of the source that reports performance information. We address this gap, by experimentally assessing the effect of source credibility on respondents’ perceptions of numerous dimensions of organizational outcomes. Importantly, while most studies of sector bias differentiate between “public” and “private” organizations, given the unique nature of nonprofit organizations, we expect to see a difference in how citizens evaluate performance when information is provided by and about for-profit, nonprofit, or public organizations. Using a survey experiment, we randomize the description of the information source, organizational ownership, and reported levels of performance, and then ask respondents to evaluate organizations in terms of their effectiveness, equity, red tape, benevolence, and efficiency, as well as to report their perceived source credibility. We use nursing home services as a policy context for this experiment. Our findings will contribute to public administration theory and practice by advancing our understanding of citizens’ perceptions of information credibility and suggesting policy implications for improving public trust in government.