Sector-Switching, Bureaucratic Reputation, and Citizen Evaluation of Performance: Evidence From a Large-Scale Experiment in India

AuthorTaha Hameduddin,Roberto Vivona
Published date01 March 2023
Date01 March 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Administration & Society
2023, Vol. 55(3) 457 –484
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997221147231
Bureaucratic Reputation,
and Citizen Evaluation of
Performance: Evidence
From a Large-Scale
Experiment in India
Taha Hameduddin1 and Roberto Vivona2
Amid crises of trust in government, the legitimacy of public organizations
has never been more important. In this context, access to performance
information ensures democratic control and thus legitimacy. However,
performance evaluation is hindered by transaction costs in accessing and
cognitive biases in interpreting performance. We examine two antecedents
of citizen evaluations of performance: sector and bureaucratic reputation.
Utilizing two experiments on a representative sample of Indian citizens,
we situate our paper amid the increasing privatization of public services,
and reputation management strategies used to influence performance
evaluations. We discuss our findings and their implications for public
management theory and practice.
citizen evaluation of performance, privatization, reputation, performance
management, India
1University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA
2Nord University, Bodø, Norway
Corresponding Author:
Taha Hameduddin, Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Kentucky,
120 Patterson Dr, Lexington, KY 40506-0027, USA.
1147231AAS0010.1177/00953997221147231Administration & SocietyHameduddin and Vivona
458 Administration & Society 55(3)
Government performance is a bedrock concern for public management schol-
ars and policymakers alike, and is the driving motivation behind public man-
agement reforms aimed at improving public services. A longstanding research
tradition within public administration has demonstrated the multidimensional
and contested nature of performance (L. B. Andersen et al., 2016; Andrews
et al. 2010), as well as the role individual judgments play in performance
assessments (James, 2011). This is important inasmuch as access to perfor-
mance information ensures democratic control of government, and informs
political knowledge and subsequent (political) behavior, such as voting and
tax compliance. However, performance information is fraught with chal-
lenges, including the large transaction costs involved in obtaining and under-
standing large “rivers of data” (Moynihan & Pandey, 2010), the use of
heuristics to judge performance (Hvidman & Andersen, 2016), as well as
reliance on other sources of reliable information in the absence of clear per-
formance data.
Perceptions of governmental performance are important since they shed
light on larger issues of institutional trust and legitimacy of government. This
is especially the case when public organizations are exposed to hostile and
negative external environments (Garrett et al., 2006; Goodsell, 2003), which
in turn can affect public employee behavior and attitudes (Hameduddin,
2021; Hameduddin & Lee, 2021; Lee et al., 2023). In the context of declines
in trust in government across time (Van de Walle et al., 2008), perceptions of
weak performance (compared to organizational peers in the private sector)
may fuel demands for increased accountability for perceived public service
failures (Sievert et al., 2020). These perceptions may then weaken the ability
of governments to recruit and retain talented employees, further hurting the
performance and reputation of agencies (Marvel, 2016).
In this paper, we address two specific antecedents of citizen evaluations
of performance: sector and bureaucratic reputation. Although past work
has demonstrated how individuals may have unconscious and implicit cog-
nitive biases toward public sector organizational performance (Hvidman
& Andersen, 2016), we broaden this by examining how sector switching
by public entities may influence citizen evaluations of performance.
Secondly, we devote attention to how the performance and moral reputa-
tions of government organizations may affect citizen evaluations of per-
formance. This is important inasmuch as bureaucratic reputation is linked
to organizational power and performance (Carpenter & Krause, 2012) and
can be managed and influenced using different reputation management
strategies (Maor et al., 2012).
To address our research questions, we utilize two large-scale survey
experiments in India, and embed them in the distinct policy context of two

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