Citizens' Blame of Politicians for Public Service Failure: Experimental Evidence about Blame Reduction through Delegation and Contracting

Public Administration Review, 76(1): 83-93, 2016

37 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2015 Last revised: 23 Mar 2018

See all articles by Oliver James

Oliver James

University of Exeter - Department of Politics

Sebastian Jilke

Rutgers University-Newark

Carolyn Petersen

University of Exeter

Steven Van de Walle

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science; Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

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 poor street maintenance. Participants were randomized to one of four cues: no information about service delivery arrangements, politicians’ involvement in managing delivery, delegation to a unit inside government managing delivery, and delegation through a contract with a private firm managing delivery. The politicians managing delivery cue raises blame compared to citizens having no information. However, the contract with a private firm cue does not reduce blame compared to either no information or the politicians managing delivery cue. Instead, the delegation to a unit inside government cue reduces blame compared to politicians managing delivery, suggesting that delegation to public managers, not contracting, reduces blame in this context.

Keywords: Public service, contracting, blame, accountability, delegation, experiment

JEL Classification: H10, H41, H42, H44, H5, H7, H83, C9, C90, C99

Suggested Citation

James, Oliver and Jilke, Sebastian and Petersen, Carolyn and Van de Walle, Steven, Citizens' Blame of Politicians for Public Service Failure: Experimental Evidence about Blame Reduction through Delegation and Contracting (2015). Public Administration Review, 76(1): 83-93, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2692597

Oliver James

University of Exeter - Department of Politics ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.huss.ex.ac.uk/politics/staff/james/index.php

Sebastian Jilke (Contact Author)

Rutgers University-Newark ( email )

111 Washington Street
Center for Urban and Public Service
Newark, NJ 07102
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.sebastianjilke.net

Carolyn Petersen

University of Exeter ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

Steven Van de Walle

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science ( email )

Public Management Institute
Van Evenstraat 2A
B-3000 Leuven
Belgium
+32 16 323614 (Phone)
+32 16 323611 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.publicmanagementinstitute.be

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
0031 10 408 2518 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stevenvandewalle.eu

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
23
Abstract Views
274
PlumX Metrics