PSG XXII: Behavioral Public Administration

The newly established EGPA Permanent Study Group (PSG) on “Behavioral Public Administration” aims to contribute to our understanding of core public administration topics by combining insights from psychology (and the behavioral sciences more broadly) and public administration. It does so by studying the micro-foundations of public administration theory and practice. The behavioral apporach twoardes public administration therefore constitutes three defining features: 1) it rests on a micro-level focus (i.e. (groups of) citizens, employees and managers); 2) it studies the behavior and attitudes of these people; and, most importantly, 3) it does so by integrating insights from psychology and the behavioral sciences into the study of public administration.


The Study Group’s 2017 theme: The psychology of citizen-state relations

The study group’s strategic aim for 2016-2019 is to study the micro-foundations of public services from both the supply (e.g., frontline workers) and the demand side (e.g., citizen-clients). The theme of 2017 will be on the psychology of citizen-state relations. One question is here how public service users and citizens form evaluative judgments about government. Among many relevant perspectives here are the role of expectations, disconfirmed expectations, and performance in shaping satisfaction judgments (e.g. Van Ryzin 2004), how citizens assign blame and credit to public organizations, and how performance information is used.

Another question has to do with how citizens perceive government. How and why, for instance, do citizens differ in their trust in government? And when and why do citizens consider government arrangements burdensome? The study group is particularly interested in how evaluative judgments and perceptions of government are affected by judgmental and behavioral biases and heuristics that have been repeatedly reported in the literature on decision-making heuristics (see most prominently, Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky 1982). Here we ask whether recent advances in psychology and behavioral economics can help to address the most pressing topics within this area of study. We welcome studies that are designed to critically examine under what conditions biases are present and how they can be reduced. In dealing with these questions, studies should be interdisciplinary, combining insights from psychology (and the behavioral sciences more broadly) and public administration – for instance in the use of theory, the use of methods, or the empirical cases studied.

Next to this particular yearly theme, we invite theory-based, empirical contributions about other substantive and methodological topics with a clear link between the behavioral sciences and public administration, but are also open to other topics related to behavioral public administration. Examples may include (but are not limited to):

  • Citizen-state interactions more broadly;
  • Judgment and decision-making in public organizations;
  • Bureaucracy bashing;
  • Nudging
  • The effects of administrative reforms on citizens/ public employees;
  • Public employees’ attitudes and behavior towards citizens
  • Methodological contributions to study Behavioral Public Administration.

The meetings of the permanent study group will be used to develop a joint research program on the topic of Behavioral Public Administration, including international publication opportunities.


Abstracts should be 300 words maximum (excluding references), written in English, single spaced, plain text, with no tables or figures. It should include title of the proposed paper, overview of the main argument, research methods, and the name(s), affiliation(s) and contact information of the author(s).

Deadline for the submissions is April 10th, 2017.  Please submit via the EGPA website:  under registration/submission. For additional information or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Study Group co-chairs are :

Martin Bækgaard (Aarhus University, Denmark); [email protected]

Sebastian Jilke (Rutgers University, US); [email protected]

Lars Tummers (Utrecht University, the Netherlands): [email protected]

Piret Tõnurist (Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia); [email protected]

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