Morten Hjortskov Larsen

Citizen Satisfaction: Political Voice and Cognitive Biases

Citizen satisfaction is increasingly being used as a measure of public service performance. It offers a performance measure that potentially encompasses many of the important attributes of the services that public managers would like to evaluate, some of which are not easily captured by other performance measures. At the same time, citizen satisfaction represents a citizen-centered approach to public management. But is citizen satisfaction in fact strongly related to performance and are satisfaction surveys representative of the citizens? By drawing on theories from classic public administration and the citizen satisfaction literature and combining them with more recent psychological approaches to attitude formation and evaluation this dissertation seeks answers to some of the recurring questions of citizen satisfaction such as: Does satisfaction depend on expectations and how are expectations formed in the first place? Do irrelevant influences affect the citizens’ evaluations of performance? Can we raise the representativeness of citizen satisfaction surveys by engaging citizens in the production of the public services? The dissertation addresses these questions using a wide range of experimental and observational data and finds that the connection between performance and citizen satisfaction may not be as strong as often assumed. The dissertation is therefore relevant for public managers, politicians and researchers who work with satisfaction surveys or make decisions based on survey results.

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