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«Citizen Evaluation of Local Government Performance and Service by Catherine McNamara A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the ...»

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Citizen Evaluation of Local Government Performance and Service

by

Catherine McNamara

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Approved April 2012 by the

Graduate Supervisory Committee:

Nicholas Alozie, Co-Chair

N. Joseph Cayer, Co-Chair

Joanna Lucio

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

May 2012

© 2012 Catherine McNamara

All Rights Reserved

ABSTRACT Government performance and accountability have grown to be predominant areas within public administration literature over the last forty years.

The research presented in this dissertation examines the relationship between citizen satisfaction and local government performance. Citizen review of service delivery provides vital feedback that facilitates better resource management within local government.

Using data from a single jurisdiction, two aspects of citizen satisfaction are reviewed. This includes citizen review of overall city performance, and citizen satisfaction with individual service delivery. Logit regression analysis is used to test several factors that affect citizen evaluation of service delivery in local government, while ordinary least squares regression is used to test the relationship between personal factors and citizen evaluation of specific local services.

The results generated four major findings that contribute to the scholarly body of knowledge and local government knowledge application. First, citizens who are predisposed to supporting the local jurisdiction are more likely to rate service delivery high. Second, customer service is important. Third, those who experience government services similarly will collectively react similarly to the service experience. Finally, the length of residency has an impact on satisfaction levels with specific services. Implications for the literature as well as for practice are discussed.

i DEDICATION This dissertation is dedicated to the loving memory of my grandparents, Joseph and Rita Fite, and James and Alma McNamara whose love and support I carry with me. To my parents, Danny and Judy, I am forever appreciative of the sacrifices you have made. Your support and encouragement has allowed me to turn dreams into reality. You have taught me to welcome the challenges life brings, hard work matters, to use courage when voicing a different view, and to always remain true to who I am. To my sisters, Maureen, Maryann, and Christine who keep me grounded by actively being my biggest critics and my strongest supporters. To my aunt and uncle, Robert and Cathy Funnell, I am truly grateful for of all of your support throughout the years. To my many friends who have provided tremendous encouragement, understanding, and kindness throughout this endeavor.

–  –  –

First and foremost, I would like to thank my dissertation committee, Dr.

Nicholas Alozie, Dr. N. Joseph Cayer, and Dr. Joanna Lucio. Their commitment, encouragement, flexibility and endless support through this process has made this possible. In particular, I am indebted to Dr. Alozie’s underlying belief and support in me. I took my first public administration course at Arizona State University from Dr. Alozie and I knew that public administration was the discipline I needed to become a part of. I am humbly appreciative for Dr.

Alozie’s teaching style, his critical guidance, his mentorship, his unrelenting work ethic, and his animated excitement towards research. Thank you, Nick.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have many influential teachers throughout my formal educational endeavors. I am grateful for my undergraduate professors Dr. Ted Schmidt and Dr. Michael Pendleton who set the foundation for my interests in economics and political science.

I am blessed to have incredibly supportive friends. In particular I’d like to thank Jan and Tracy McKelvey, Wayne Olin, Rachael Brown, Mary Timmons, Neil Davis, Jr., and my wonderful friends that have been with me since my days at Mount Mercy Academy. The support, reassurance, inspiration, and tough love I’ve received over the years from my family, friends, mentors, and alike has influenced who I am and allows me to remain humble and appreciative for having incredible people remain in my life.

–  –  –

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION

Research Questions

Organization

2 LITERATURE REVIEW

Personal Experience

Race / Ethnicity

Gender

Age

Neighborhood Effects

Government Structure

–  –  –

Tax Base and Budget

Public Choice Literature

Tiebout

City – Size Interpretations

Homogeneity and Sorting

Capitalization

–  –  –

Micro-Level Data

3 RESEARCH DESIGN (METHODOLOGY)

Venue of the Research

Source of Data

Research Questions

Measurement of Variables

Analytical Models

4 FINDINGS

Profile of the Sample

Analysis

Testing Research Question #1 and Hypothesis

Testing Research Question #2 and Hypothsis

5 DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS





Implications for the Literature

Implications for Practice

Consideration for Further Research

REFERENCES

–  –  –

A Individual Service Frequencies

B 2002 Survey

C 2004 Survey

–  –  –

1. Sample Statistics

2. Correlation Matrix

Citizen Rating of City’s Overall Performance

3.

4. Citizens’ Ratings of Individual Service by Race / Ethnicity............. 83

5. Citizens’ Ratings of Individual Service by Gender

6A. Logit Regression of Effects on Satisfaction with City’s Overall Ability to Deliver Services

6B. Logit Regression of Effects on Satisfaction with City’s Overall Ability to Deliver Services (Zip Code Results)

7. Logit Regression of Effect on Satisfaction with City’s Overall Ability to Deliver Services (Factoring in the Effects of Contact with City). 91

8. Determinants of Citizens’ Ratings of City Performance in Individual Service Areas

–  –  –

This dissertation examines citizen satisfaction with local government services and performance. Two dimensions of citizen satisfaction are reviewed;

one, citizen review of the overall city performance, and two, specific citizen satisfaction with individual service delivery. To examine this relationship, the City of Phoenix, Arizona is used as a case study. Because citizen evaluation of city performance remains a high priority on their agenda, Phoenix commissions a biannual survey to glean citizen review of government services and performance.

These data are used to examine the relationship between citizen review and local government performance and service delivery. Chapter 1 provides a further description detailing why this relationship is important to understand and outlines the specific research questions.

Every day, citizens interact with local government willingly or not.

Whether it is getting trash picked up on the correct day, getting the street plowed after a hard snow fall, going to the library to use the Internet, or paying taxes, local government is part of one’s daily life. Given this interaction, it becomes necessary for government officials and bureaucrats alike to pay close attention to their citizen’s response to local government service and performance. Citizen reviews can take on many forms including citizen opinion surveys, needs assessments, and program and policy evaluations. Ultimately, these reviews factor into the quality of life aspect and can determine the health and longevity of a city.

Fundamentally, a citizen review provides necessary feedback that enables local government administration the opportunity to manage its resources – money, staff, time, or some combination thereof. For example, if a review of library performance data is excellent, and the citizen satisfaction with library services is also excellent, then local administrators can determine to keep current levels of resources (funding, staff, hours of operation) intact, or shift resources (give more or take away from) where needed.

The idea of government performance and accountability became relevant and increasingly more predominant to the public administration literature within the last thirty to forty years. Initially, this type of review centered on outcome performance measures (Brown & Coulter, 1983) Local governments could determine whether or not the service they were providing measured up to normative criteria, and/or national benchmarking standards. For example, in reviewing police services, a performance measure could include the response time to a call, the number of arrests, lower crime statistics, etc.

The late 1980’s and 1990’s saw a shift from performance outcome measures, to citizen satisfaction surveys. Arguably, this shift resulted from an increased focus on government accountability and the ‘reinvention of government’ (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992). Under this paradigm, a review of police services included performance outcome measures as well as the citizen review of those services. For example, if you are Chief of Police and have excellent performance outcome measurements, yet the citizens still rank police services as poor, you have problems on your hand. Dissecting this information based on population, age, race/ethnicity, gender, income, neighborhood, etc. can exacerbate the problem.

Ultimately, cities compete to attract business, industry and people. The quality and caliber of such is determined by the performance and sustainability of that city to continue its growth and attractiveness. In present day terms, it is the difference of being Seattle, Washington, versus Detroit, Michigan.

Fundamentally, citizen input into government has always been part of the check and balance process. Ultimately, this review is actualized through the voting process of government officials. While a city manager represents the bureaucratic side of government, citizen accountability of government’s performance remains at the elected official level; i.e., mayor, city councilman, judges, etc. Elected government officials then hold government bureaucrats accountable from the city manager down to the clerk level.

Part of the ‘reinventing government’ model included the outsourcing of many municipal services out to private contractors, based on the belief that private enterprises were more cost efficient. It also represents an alternative means of local officials for holding government bureaucrats accountable. The threat of outsourcing can ‘rejuvenate’ or motivate a lackluster department to reprioritize its efforts to carrying forth its mission.

The active role of a civil society adds legitimacy and is a crucial element towards the success and viability of democratic governments. Citizen participation is paramount to this process, and the opportunity for citizens to participate and vocalize their priorities within the community can become a determinant of how successfully that community develops. An examination of this relationship is robust in the literature – see Putnam, 1993 for further review.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

While it is important to review citizen evaluation of local government performance and service, a critical review of the following research questions yields specific attention to the uniqueness of demographic and community variables.

Question 1: What factors determine citizens’ evaluations of local government performance and service delivery? In particular, to what extend do such evaluations hinge on personal experience with local government?

There are several veins within the literature that flesh out the role of personal experience. Seminal work by Michael Lipsky (1980) examines the importance of street level bureaucrats with respect to service delivery and performance. For example, a citizen’s review of police service can squarely rest on one’s personal experience. If one is stopped by a police officer and receives a ticket for a traffic violation, is the review positive because the officer was enforcing the law, or negative, because the individual experienced a negative consequence for one’s personal failure to adhere to traffic laws?

How long does the positive or negative experience with a street level bureaucrat resonate and what is the long term effect? This specific question is difficult to answer but nonetheless plays a role in the determination and review of government performance.

Question 2: Does citizen evaluation of local government and service delivery generally differ from citizen evaluation of local government performance with respect to specific services?

The existing literature does not focus and call attention to this theoretical consideration. The idea here of course is that generally, specific services can have low satisfaction rates and yet not impact the overall satisfaction levels of city services. So what if the city’s satisfaction level of “controlling street flooding” yields low levels of satisfaction – especially given that the annual rainfall in Phoenix is considerably low. In addition, specific sub-populations can rate specific services low, and yield the same effect; an overall high satisfaction with local government provision and delivery of services.

Taken together, this would seemingly yield what I would call the “good enough” effect of citizen satisfaction with the provision and delivery of services with local government. As long as the level of dissatisfaction with a specific service does not have a negative effect on the overall level of satisfaction, there is no motivation for local government to address the dissatisfaction because it ultimately doesn’t have a net impact. This would hold true with sub-populations as well. This concept is similar to explaining full employment, whereby a percentage of unemployment is accepted within the definition. It stands to reason then, if overall satisfaction with local government services is evident, there could also be a level of dissatisfaction with specific service delivery, but not to the extent that it displaces overall satisfaction.



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