2019 Annual Conference of the European Group for Public Administration

Event Information

Queen's University Belfast
United Kingdom
End Date
Contact Email

The EGPA Permanent Study Group (PSG) on “Behavioral Public Administration” aims to contribute to our understanding of core public administration and management 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 approach towards public administration therefore constitutes three defining features:

1) it rests on a micr o-level focus (i.e. (groups of) citizens, public 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.

2019 Theme: Administrative Burden in Public Administration, Management and Policy: What Role for Behavioral Insights?
The study group’s strategic aim for 2016-2019 is to study the micro-foundations of public services from both the supply (e.g., public employees and organizational models) and the demand side (e.g., citizens and clients). The theme of 2019 will be on analyzing the causes and consequences of administrative burden and on testing behavioral interventions aimed at reducing any undesired spillovers. A great share of the challenges that public managers face concern questions of how to change human behaviors in desirable ways and how to design organizational models and management processes that consider humans’ bounded rationality.

Administrative burden is a multi-faceted phenomenon that encompasses a mix of learning costs, psychological costs, and compliance costs (e.g. Moynihan, Herd, and Harvey 2015). These costs are
carried by citizens and residents in their interactions with government and by civil servants in carrying out the mission of their organizations. Whereas burdens are in place to serve legitimate public values under certain circumstances, they may be unwarranted under other circumstances (e.g., Jilke, Van Dooren, and Rys 2018). A fine-grained understanding of the causes and consequences of administrative burden, then, should be a central question in the study of public administration, management, and policy. The behavioral sciences, on the other hand, investigate how psychological, cognitive, emotional and social factors influence individuals’ decisions. The blending between the studies on administrative burden and extant work on behavioral public administration uncovers relevant research questions, such as: Why – and under what circumstances – do public authorities deliberately impose burdens on citizens, clients, and legal residents? To what extent are administrative burdens unequally distributed among citizens and clients? How do public institutions use behavioral insights in their daily work practices and interactions with citizen-clients to further their public mission? How can behavioral insights used to make operations and services within public agencies more effective?

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

  • Citizen-state interactions more broadly;
  • Citizens’ evaluative judgements of government agencies;
  • Judgment and decision-making in public organizations;
  • Differential impact of administrative burden on citizens versus residents;
  • The effects of administrative reforms on citizens and civil servants;
  • Public employees’ attitudes and behavior towards citizens;
  • The use of behavioral science to change behavior of citizens and professionals, including but not limited to nudges
  • ▪ The use of behavioral science to key public administration themes, including but not limited to networks, strategic management, HRM and leadership, street-level bureaucracy, and performance management.
  • 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.

Please submit your abstract online through the Conference Website: https://www.egpaconference2019.org/ or directly through Conference Management System:

More information on the 2019 EGPA conference can be found at: https://www.egpa-conference2019.org/