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Decision responsiveness and the legitimacy of public agencies

Seyd, Ben, Cichocka, Aleksandra, Panayiotou, Orestis (2021) Decision responsiveness and the legitimacy of public agencies. Parliamentary Affairs, . Article Number gsaa065. ISSN 0031-2290. (doi:10.1093/pa/gsaa065) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:84732)

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Abstract

The procedural qualities of decisions made by public agencies are known to shape citizens’ perceptions of decision legitimacy. Existing empirical studies focus on procedures such as whether citizens are consulted, and whether their preferences are taken into account. Less is known about whether decisions made by public agencies are deemed legitimate if they reflect citizens’ broad interests rather than their immediate preferences. Yet many contemporary issues confront policy makers with dilemmas of whether to respond to citizens’ demands or instead to act on their interests. Using an experimental approach among a sample of British citizens, we analyse the effects on perceived legitimacy of various aspects of decision responsiveness. We focus in particular on whether public agencies are rewarded if they ignore citizens’ preferences while showing they are acting in their broader interests. Our results show that perceived legitimacy is indeed higher when decisions are seen to reflect citizens’ collective interests. But this boost disappears if individuals disapprove of the agency’s decision. We conclude that acting in citizens’ broad interests is unlikely to stimulate legitimacy among individuals who do not favour a decision’s outcome.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/pa/gsaa065
Uncontrolled keywords: Decision making; Legitimacy; Voice; Preferences; Interests
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions and public administration
J Political Science > JS Local government. Municipal government
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Ben Seyd
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2020 11:38 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 15:22 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/84732 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Seyd, Ben: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5485-316X
Cichocka, Aleksandra: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1703-1586
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