Representative Bureaucracy and the Willingness to Coproduce: An Experimental Study

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130 Scopus citations


Relying on the theory of representative bureaucracy-specifically, the notion of symbolic representation-this article examines whether varying the number of female public officials overseeing a local recycling program influences citizens' (especially women's) willingness to cooperate with the government by recycling, thus coproducing important policy outcomes. Using a survey experiment in which the first names of public officials are manipulated, the authors find a clear pattern of increasing willingness on the part of women to coproduce when female names are more represented in the agency responsible for recycling, particularly with respect to the more difficult task of composting food waste. Overall, men in the experiment were less willing to coproduce across all measures and less responsive to the gender balance of names. These findings have important implications for the theory of representative bureaucracy and for efforts to promote the coproduction of public services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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