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Workshop "Citizens and Public Service Performance: Demands, Responses and Changing Service Delivery Mechanisms"

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European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)

Qué
  • reforme384
Cuándo 10/04/2012 13:00 a
15/04/2012 23:00
Dónde Antwerp, Belgica
Nombre
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We invite researchers to submit paper proposals to the workshop. This year, ECPR require paper proposals be submitted using their website (link below) but please also email us with the title, abstract and contact details of author(s) (one author per paper would attend the workshop so please indicate who would attend). When completing the ECPR online form, also please be sure to scroll down to your institution and the workshop ‘Citizens and Public Service Performance..’ in those fields of the form.

http://new.ecprnet.eu/Joint%20Sessions/2012_Antwerp/JointSessionsPaperProposal.aspx?EventID=6


Full details of the workshop are provided below in this email and they also appear on the ECPR website:

http://www.ecprnet.eu/joint_sessions/antwerp/workshop_details.asp?workshopID=5


ECPR describe the workshop format as a forum for substantive discussion on research in progress and collaboration among scholars and are gatherings of approximately 15 to 20 participants from several institutions, normally lasting up to 5 days. The topics of discussion are precisely defined (see description below for this workshop), and only those scholars currently working in the workshop's field are accepted to participate.

If you have colleagues with whom you work and who might also be interested then please do also send this email on to them.


Details of the practical arrangements for the ECPR workshops will be provided by the ECPR and local organisers at the w:st="on"University of Antwerp. There is also general information about how the joint sessions operate on the ECPR website:

http://www.ecprnet.eu/joint_sessions/antwerp/default.asp


Workshop Director 1:

Prof. Dr. Oliver James (Department of Politics, w:st="on"University of Exeter)

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

o.james@exeter.ac.uk


Workshop Director 2:

Prof. Dr. Steven Van de Walle (Department of Public Administration,

Erasmus University w:st="on"Rotterdam)

http://www.stevenvandewalle.eu/

vandewalle@fsw.eur.nl


Abstract

The workshop analyses the interaction between citizens, users and public services that entail public funding, ownership or regulation in the context of contemporary service delivery mechanisms. These mechanisms include quasi-market and choice based mechanisms, non-state actors providing services and structures for coproduced services that operate alongside, or as an alternative to, more state-centric, bureaucratic or professionalised modes of delivery. The workshop organisers welcome papers on these topics that evaluate the empirical implications of theory using evidence. The workshop will discuss a set of core themes: How do structures for choice, exit, coproduction, consultation and broader voice affect citizens and users’ interaction with public services? How does transparency, including published information about the performance of services, and communications technology affect citizens and users’ interaction with services? Are interactions now consumer rather than citizen oriented? Do market and related methods interact with, and even crowd-out, citizens’ political voice activities? What are the effect of service delivery structures on citizen cooperation with services and coproduction of services? What are the effects of citizen and user feedback on political and managerial service providers, service performance and the continued use of particular mechanisms? Are different groups of citizens and users differently able to use delivery mechanisms to advance their interests? What is the current state of policy-makers’ knowledge about these issues and how can social science inform the future institutional design of mechanisms for citizens and users’ interaction with public services?


Outline of the topic

The workshop will provide a forum for discussion of papers that assess the empirical implications of theory using evidence about the relationship between citizens, users and public services. Interest in services that entail public funding, ownership or regulation is a long standing core theme of research in politics (Weber 1989; Putnam 1993; Rothstein 1993; 2003; Ostrom 1996;1998). The workshop focuses on analysis of the contemporary mechanisms for public service delivery, their consequences for citizens and users’ interaction with services and service providers, and the outcomes for these groups including

the quality of service performance. Public services are delivered increasingly by non-state, market and choice based mechanisms and through coproduced forms of service provision. These forms operate alongside, or as an alternative to, traditional state, bureaucratic or professionalised modes of delivery. An influential strand of research on the operation of these mechanisms through loyalty, exit and voice, particularly influenced by the work of Hirschman (1971), has developed in recent years and the importance of the mechanisms is broadly recognised (Rothstein 2003; James 2003; Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004; Le Grand 2007; Dowding and John 2008; 2009 Boyne, James, John, Petrovsky 2009; Van de Walle and Scott 2010).

The workshop will discuss a set of core themes: How do structures for choice, exit, coproduction, consultation and broader voice affect citizens and users’ interaction with public services? How does transparency, including published information about the performance of services, and communications technology affect citizens and users’ attitudes and interaction with services? Are interactions now consumer rather than citizen oriented? Do market and related methods interact with, and even crowd-out, citizens’ political voice activities? What are the effect of service delivery structures on citizen cooperation with services and coproduction of services? What are the effects of citizen and user feedback on political and managerial service providers, service performance and the continued use of particular mechanisms? Are different groups of citizens and users differently able to use delivery mechanisms to advance their interests? What is the current state of policy-makers’ knowledge about these issues and how can social science inform the future institutional design of mechanisms for citizens and users’ interaction with public services? Citizenship and public services are closely connected concepts. Conventional concepts of citizenship based on membership of political communities with associated rights and duties have important implications for services that entail public funding, direct public provision or specific public regulation. Core services, notably law and order and regulation, have elements of compulsory consumption by citizens and citizens further interact with many others, especially in health, education and welfare. More recent concepts of citizenship extend and change this concept through participatory forms of engagement with public bodies. Coproduction of services with joint citizen and provider inputs occur in some areas (Ostrom 1998). What counts as performance is itself partly defined by stakeholders and is considered especially in terms of service economy, efficiency, effectiveness. Congruence between services and moral values including justice are recognised as influencing citizens’ attitudes about them (Rothstein 1993; 2003). Recent research has analysed how poor service performance contributes to negative citizen perceptions of services. Poor performance influences other attitudes, lowering positive expectations about services and creating dissatisfaction with services and service providers (Lyons, Lowery, and DeHoog 1992; James 2009; Boyne et al 2009; James 2011). The interaction of citizens and services is mediated by mechanisms of service delivery. Citizen dissatisfaction has been found to trigger political voice through lobbying public managers or politicians and voting against political incumbents responsible for provision (Lyons and Lowery. 1989; w:st="on"Lyons, Lowery, and DeHoog 1992; Dowding, John and Mergoupis 2000; James and John 2007; Dowding and John 2008; Boyne, James, John, Petrovsky 2009). At a fundamental level, citizen responses to public services can affect support for public institutions including states, with states able to increase their legitimacy with citizens through appropriate provision of public services. Appropriateness can relate to values of efficiency but also consistency with moral values (Rothstein 1998). Public service performance can influence social trust as part of social capital in societies (Putnam 1993; Ostrom 1998) if this aspect of social capital is affected by interaction with public service providers (Rothstein 2003). This reasoning suggests that states failing to provide adequate services risk coming under attack by disgruntled citizens because they lack legitimacy (Batley, and McLoughlin 2010; Van de Walle and Scott 2010). Associated with this risk, elaborate systems of blame shifting and avoidance are increasingly noted in institutional design by politicians and service providers seeking to avoid the wrath of citizens stemming from service failures (Hood 2010).

Research is increasingly focusing on political responses by citizens to public service performance. In an analogous way to the much more established literature on economic voting (for a review of this literature see Lewis Beck and Paldam 2000), public service performance has been shown to affect the electoral prospects of political incumbents. Negativity bias is evident in citizen responses to service performance; poor performers are punished but there is no equivalent reward for performance above the middle range (James and John 2007; Boyne, James, John, Petrovsky 2009). Poor service performance can also trigger exit from public services in circumstances where choice is available (Dowding and John 2009). In the other direction of the relationship, political attitudes and behaviour themselves influence public services and their performance. General attitudes to the public sector influence citizen demands for services and whether they are deemed desirable. Citizens with an unfavourable view of the state demand fewer public services and demand that they are provided by non-state institutions including charities. Where this unfavourable view of the state is associated with low social capital the context may generate limited capacity, damaging the performance of public services that depend on citizens’ participation for them to be undertaken, for example resulting in low tax collection (Rothstein 2003). Dissatisfaction with services can lead to citizen demands for improvement, a form of feedback. Such processes can set up virtuous spirals of improvement (Boyne, James, John and Petrovsky 2009). However, if problems are more deep seated or if citizens exit from services then services may end up with chronic underperformance. Poorly performing bodies may even end up as permanently failing organisations (Mayer and Zucker 1989). The form of the relationship between citizens and public services has been radically changing in recent years. There has been a long running interest in the extent to which citizens can or should be involved in consultation, collaboration or coproduction of public services (Ostrom 1996). Direct citizen involvement in public services forms an alternative to relying on traditional bureaucratic structures overseen by representative governments. In recent decades many countries have increased direct citizen involvement in services but have also undertaken increased marketisation of public services. There have been shifts from publicly owned bodies to provision by private firms operating in regulated markets and the introduction of choice both between privatised firms and between providers within the public sector (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004; Clarke et al. 2007; Dowding and John 2009). This trend makes the trade off between choice and voice increasingly important, with exit options potentially limiting voice pressures for improvement in the classic framework developed by Hirschman (1971) and recently extended and applied (Dowding and John 2009). Some authors have argued that the introduction of choice has undermined voice processes such that the citizen model has largely been replaced by a citizenconsumer model that diminishes the potential for democratic participation in public services (Clarke et al 2007). Despite many common trends, the historical experiences of countries, notably in the different blend of state and public provision embodied in their welfare state regimes (Esping-Anderson 1990), is important in moderating the use of markets and their impact on citizens’ relationships with public services. The is now more recognition of the role that information and learning play in citizens ability to take part in political life in general (Lau and Redlawsk 2006; Lupia and McCubbins 1998). This research has major implications for understanding how citizens interact with public services in both their choice and voice activities. Providing information to citizens about public service performance has been found to influence citizen perceptions about performance and their satisfaction with services, helping to inform both choice and voice (James 2010). These findings about citizens are consistent with increased use of public service performance information by stakeholders including managers and politicians (Van Dooren & Van de Walle 2008).

The internet offers potential for more provision of information to citizens and potentially fuller collaboration in the delivery of services. The technology also offers the prospect of redesigning services to focus on individual citizens’ needs rather than providing a form of provision dictated by traditional organisational forms for providing services, which has led to fragmentation with multiple points of citizen contact. However, in practice the deeper forms of transformation has been less evident than use of the internet for information provision and new technologies require citizens to have new capacities in their interaction with government (Chadwick 2006; Brewer, Neubauer and Geiselhart 2006; Hood and Margetts 2007; Dunleavy et al. 2008).


Workshop structure and type of invited papers

The workshop will address these questions through discussion of papers that are theoretical or empirical contributions. Particular emphasis will be placed on papers that seek to evaluate the empirical implications of theories through clear research designs using quantitative or qualitative methods. The scope is open to address questions in any jurisdiction or public service, including health, education and welfare. The incorporation of insights from several jurisdictions and sectors is important because trends, notably towards marketisation, have been uneven and historical structures for public service provision are varied. The papers are invited to address some of the following research questions:


1) How do structures for choice, exit, coproduction, consultation and broader voice affect citizens and users’ interaction with public services? How does service performance influence citizens’ behaviour in terms of the use of services, exit from services and political voice about services, especially voting and lobbying service providers? Is there a trade off between exit and voice responses to performance? Is negativity bias evident in responses to public service performance either in attitudes, behaviour or both?

2) What are the effects of service performance on citizens’ perceptions of services and attitudes towards services, especially the perceived economy, efficiency, effectiveness, fairness of services and satisfaction with services? What are the effects of attitudes about processes of service delivery, particularly to the use of state and non-state providers and bureaucratic, market and coproduction mechanisms?

3) Are different groups of citizens and users differently able to use delivery mechanisms to advance their interests?

4) Is there feedback from service performance to citizen action which leads to a subsequent response by providers and correction of underperformance, or do citizens disengage when there is poor performance reducing pressures for improvement? Do politicians and public managers design service provision to avoid blame from citizens for underperformance?

5) Have the increased use of private providers operating under public regulation and increased use of mechanisms to encourage choice led to a citizen model being replaced by consumer model or citizen-consumer model of interaction with public service performance?

6) How does the performance of public services influence attitudes and behaviour towards institutions providing public services, including state and non-state institutions? Does performance affect trust in these institutions?

7) How does transparency, including published information about the performance of services, and communications technology affect citizens and users’ interaction with services? Can citizens learn what they need to about service performance in order to exercise choice and political voice?

8) Does performance influence citizens’ motivation and capacity to engage with public services to provide public services, notably for coproduced services that require citizens to change their behaviour in order to achieve their goals?

9) What is the current state of policy-makers’ knowledge about these issues and how can social science inform the future institutional design of mechanisms for citizens and users’ interaction with public services?