Research interests: municipal amalgamations; performance-satisfaction gap; social media communication by public sector organisations; automated text analysis
Customer satisfaction regarding public services is often only loosely coupled to changes in actual performance. This gap between satisfaction and performance may lead to misguided reforms and may erode trust in public services. Literature shows how the incapacity of customers to assess actual performance can be attributed to the bounded rationality of customers. We know less about how public communication influences this bounded decision making that underlies the performance-satisfaction gap. With the rise of social media, the communication channels for public sector organizations have grown extensively. Twitter has become the dominant medium since it allows public organizations to interact directly with large audiences and offer live updates on services. Twitter should be ideally suited to address the information problem and thus to mitigate the performance-satisfaction gap. Yet, studies to the potential benefits and effects of social media within a public sector context are lacking. This project therefore asks whether and how public communication by public service providers via Twitter reduces the performance satisfaction gap. Using a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest setup with advanced time series modelling, this project will bring new insights on what influences satisfaction of public services, the effect of public communication through social media as well as methodological innovation in the use of social media sources for Public Administration research.
Research project funded by the Flemish Research Fund