Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2349801
 


 



Surfacing the Submerged State with Operational Transparency in Government Services


Ryan W. Buell


Harvard Business School

Michael I. Norton


Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

November 4, 2013

Harvard Business School Marketing Unit Working Paper No. 14-034
Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 14-034

Abstract:     
As Americans' trust in government nears historic lows, frustration with government performance approaches record highs. One explanation for this trend is that citizens may be unaware of both the services provided by government and the impact of those services on their lives. In an experiment, Boston-area residents interacted with a website that visualizes both service requests submitted by the public (e.g., potholes and broken streetlamps) and efforts by the City of Boston to address them. Some participants observed a count of new, open, and recently closed service requests, while others viewed these requests visualized on an interactive map that included details and images of the work being performed. Residents who experienced this "operational transparency" in government services – seeing the work that government is doing – expressed more positive attitudes toward government and greater support for maintaining or expanding the scale of government programs. The effect of transparency on support for government programs was equivalent to a roughly 20% decline in conservatism on a political ideology scale. We further demonstrate that positive attitudes about government partially mediate the relationship between operational transparency and support for maintaining and expanding government programs. While transparency is customarily trained on elected officials as a means of ethical oversight, our research documents the benefits of increased transparency into the delivery of government services.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

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Date posted: November 6, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Buell, Ryan W. and Norton, Michael I., Surfacing the Submerged State with Operational Transparency in Government Services (November 4, 2013). Harvard Business School Marketing Unit Working Paper No. 14-034; Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 14-034. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2349801 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2349801

Contact Information

Ryan W. Buell
Harvard Business School ( email )
Soldiers Field Road
Morgan Hall 429
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-496-6918 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu/rbuell
Michael I. Norton (Contact Author)
Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )
Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
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