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Surfacing the Submerged State: Operational Transparency Increases Trust in and Engagement with Government

Listed author(s):
  • Ryan W. Buell

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Technology and Operations Management Unit)

  • Ethan Porter

    ()

    (University of Chicago)

  • Michael I. Norton

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Marketing Unit)

Registered author(s):

    Three studies, using original experimental as well as field data from the city of Boston, Massachusetts, show that revealing the "submerged state" - ensuring that citizens can see the often-hidden work that government performs - enhances both perceptions of and engagement with government. In Study 1, viewing a video highlighting the work performed by the government of an archetypal American town increased trust in government and support for government services. In Study 2, Boston residents who interacted with a website that visualized both service requests (e.g., potholes) and efforts by the city government to address them became more supportive of government. Study 3 leverages proprietary data from a mobile phone application through which residents can submit service requests to Boston government. Users who received photographic evidence that their service requests had been addressed were more likely to continue to engage with government than users who did not receive such evidence.

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    File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/pages/download.aspx?name=14-034.pdf
    File Function: Revised version, 2017
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 14-034.

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    Length: 35 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2013
    Date of revision: Aug 2017
    Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-034
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    Web page: http://www.hbs.edu/

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    1. Raymond Hicks & Dustin Tingley, 2011. "Causal mediation analysis," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 11(4), pages 605-619, December.
    2. Mohr, Lois A. & Bitner, Mary Jo, 1995. "The role of employee effort in satisfaction with service transactions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 239-252, March.
    3. Chinander, Karen R. & Schweitzer, Maurice E., 2003. "The input bias: The misuse of input information in judgments of outcomes," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 243-253, July.
    4. Ryan W. Buell & Michael I. Norton, 2011. "The Labor Illusion: How Operational Transparency Increases Perceived Value," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(9), pages 1564-1579, February.
    5. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
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