Evidence suggests that citizens evaluate government performance differently when equivalent performance information is presented with either a positive or negative framing—but do experienced public managers also suffer from this framing effect? To address this question, we conducted an experiment with 191 public service professionals in the U.S. in which we experimentally varied the framing of performance information about customer satisfaction, job satisfaction and goal achievement for various federal government agencies. Our findings show that public service professionals—just like ordinary citizens—are susceptible to framing effects. Specifically, they tend to evaluate federal agency performance more negatively when percentages of “job dissatisfaction” and “targets not met” were presented, as opposed to logically equivalent percentages of “job satisfaction” and “targets met.” The pattern is the same for “customer dissatisfaction” versus “customer satisfaction” rates, although the results are not statistically significant. These findings provide a deeper understanding about the use of government performance information, as well as how such information is comprehended and perhaps misunderstood by decision makers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Public Administration