Evaluating the Expectations Disconfirmation and Expectations Anchoring Approaches to Citizen Satisfaction with Local Public Services
Posted: 31 Dec 2008
Date Written: January 2009
Expectations disconfirmation and expectations anchoring are two increasingly influential approaches to understanding individuals' satisfaction and dissatisfaction with public services. This article assesses hypotheses from these approaches for two local public services in England provided by local authorities: overall public services from the authority and household refuse collection services. Consistent with the expectations disconfirmation hypothesis, performance minus expectations is positively related to the predicted probability of satisfaction and negatively related to predicted probability of dissatisfaction for both types of service. However, the relationship is not symmetric between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, the predicted probability of dissatisfaction falls more rapidly than the predicted probability of satisfaction rises as performance increasingly meets expectations. The expectations anchoring hypotheses receive support for dissatisfaction and partial support for satisfaction, with a general expectations relationship evident for overall services but only evident in the case of very high expectations for waste services. The findings suggest that expectations need to be taken into account alongside more conventionally understood factors in using satisfaction surveys as a performance measure, especially if performance is not potentially to be overestimated in areas with low expectations or underestimated in areas with high expectations. Managing expectations, as well as perceived performance, may be an effective strategy for local authorities to raise satisfaction, although this may not be seen as desirable.
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