Tension in democratic administration: Does managerial confidence in administrative capacity reduce citizen participation in organizational decision-making?

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Abstract

The tension between bureaucratic and democratic values has characterized significant debates in the field of public administration. In this article, we ask, does public managers' confidence in their organizational administrative capacity affect citizen participation? Using managerial confidence in organizational response capacity (ORC) during crises as a vehicle to investigate the tension between democratic and administrative values, we examine whether an administration-centric approach to management influences citizen participation. We posit that higher levels of managerial confidence in organizational administrative capacity can lessen the pressure from political stakeholders which, in turn, might allow managers the autonomy to isolate themselves from the general public. The empirical analysis uses a structural equation model (SEM) to examine survey data from senior managers in 500 US cities. We find that managerial confidence in ORC reduces citizen participation, but only indirectly through diminishing influence from other governmental actors or by allowing managers to win the trust of political principals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-695
Number of pages21
JournalPublic Administration
Volume98
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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