PAR Preview ▪ Issue 87 ▪ July 2017
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Theory to Practice
Hal G. Rainey, Editor
Crowdsourcing Government: Lessons from Multiple Disciplines
Crowdsourcing has proliferated across disciplines and professional fields. Implementers in the public sector face practical challenges, however, in the execution of crowdsourcing. Helen K. Liu (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong) synthesizes prior crowdsourcing research and practices from a variety of disciplines and focuses to identify lessons for meeting the practical challenges of crowdsourcing in the public sector. She identifies three distinct categories of crowdsourcing: organizations, products and services, and holistic systems. Lessons about the fundamental logic of process design—alignment, motivation, and evaluation—identified across the three categories are discussed. Conclusions drawn from past studies and the resulting evidence can help public managers better design and implement crowdsourcing in the public sector. Link to PAR Early View
Professional Cities: Accredited Agencies, Government Structure, and Rational Choice
Accreditation, long used to signal quality among hospitals and universities, has been available to police, fire, and public works departments since the late 1980s. For public service departments, accreditation is a voluntary process that demands significant organizational resources without a guaranteed outcome. Why would city officials devote scarce resources to such an endeavor? Two explanations are examined. First, accreditation may be a rational response to a history of trouble or the potential for future crisis. Second, municipalities may use accreditation to build a reputation for professional administration of public services. Barbara Coyle McCabe, Branco Ponomariov, and Fabyan Estrada (University of Texas at San Antonio) use Poisson regression to test these explanations on a new data set of midsize cities. Link to PAR Early View
Can Transparency Foster More Understanding and Compliant Citizens?
Voluntary policy compliance is an important yet rarely studied topic in public administration. To address the paucity of research, Gregory A. Porumbescu (Rutgers University—Newark), Meghan I. H. Lindeman, Erica Ceka (Northern Illinois University), and Maria Cucciniello (Bocconi University, Italy) propose and empirically test a conceptual framework that ties policy transparency and policy understanding to voluntary policy compliance intentions. The reasoning is that the extent to which citizens understand a policy contributes to their intentions to comply with that policy. Further, the authors argue that policy transparency indirectly influences voluntary policy compliance intentions through a positive effect on citizens’ levels of policy understanding. To enhance the validity of the findings, the authors assess these relationships across two policy domains. The findings reflect an indirect positive effect of transparency on voluntary compliance occurring through policy understanding. However, this emerged only for one policy domain. These results suggest that the effects of policy transparency on policy understanding and voluntary policy compliance intentions may depend on the policy domain. Link to PAR Early View
Decreasing Improper Payments in a Complex Federal Program
Since the early 2000s, the U.S. federal government has placed increasing focus on combating improper payments. Implementing policies to control improper payments is no easy task. Federal programs are often large, complex, riddled with moral hazard concerns, and jointly implemented. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor adopted a national strategy to combat improper payments in the Unemployment Insurance program. Robert A. Greer and Justin B. Bullock (Texas A&M University) examine the effect that the Department of Labor’s strategic initiative had on lowering states’ improper payments. Findings show that two of its tools—mandatory cross matching of employment records between the National Directory of New Hires and State Directories of New Hires and a communication strategy known as messaging—played a statistically significant role in halting the rise of improperly paid unemployment insurance claims. These results suggest that information technology tools and increased communication among stakeholders can be effective in lowering improper payments and improving government performance. Link to PAR Early View
Perceived Organizational Red Tape and Organizational Performance in Public Services
The claim that perceived organizational red tape hampers public services has become a central theme in public administration research. Surprisingly, however, few scholars have empirically examined the impact of perceived red tape on organizational performance. Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen and Mads Leth Jakobsen (Aarhus University, Denmark) empirically analyze how perceived organizational red tape among managers and frontline staff relates to objectively measured performance. The data consist of survey responses from teachers and principals at Danish upper secondary schools combined with grade-level administrative performance data. Based on theories of red tape and motivation crowding, the authors hypothesize that perceived organizational red tape reduces performance within such organizations. The empirical result is a small negative relationship between staff perception of red tape and performance and no relationship between manager-perceived red tape and performance. Link to PAR Early View
Public Administration Review is published by Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration.
Editor-in-Chief: James L. Perry ▪ Editor: Richard Feiock
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