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Measuring Bureaucratic Reputation: Scale Development and validation

Governance
Quantitative
Communication
Danbee Lee
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Danbee Lee
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Gregg Van Ryzin
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Abstract

Despite the growing interest in bureaucratic reputation, there has been little effort to measure the concept in a systematic way with standardized measurement. Bureaucratic reputation refers to a set of beliefs about an agency’s unique capacities, roles, and obligations that are held by multiple audiences (Carpenter, 2010). Researchers have argued that it is an important resource for public agencies in terms of power, autonomy, accountability, and legitimacy, which agencies try to protect and improve through different strategies (Busuioc & Lodge, 2016; Carpenter, 2001; Gilad, Maor, & Bloom, 2015). Previous researchers have used theoretical lenses to examine the significance of bureaucratic reputation and relied on mostly qualitative approaches using archival data and interviews, as well as content analysis of media coverage (Maor, 2016). These methodological approaches are important, especially for measuring reputation at macro levels. However, research on bureaucratic reputation could benefit from standardized measurement at micro levels focusing on individual citizens and stakeholders. Thus, this study reports on the development of a multi-item scale to measure bureaucratic reputation. Following Carpenter (2010), we conceptualized it as consisting of 1) performance, 2) morality, 3) procedure, and 4) technical competency. This study adds a fifth dimension representing general attitudes. A thirty-item pool of statements is developed to measure the five dimensions of bureaucratic reputation, and these items have been revised and refined by twenty academic experts who have worked on it. The validity and reliability of the scale are refined and tested using an online sample of approximately 300 citizens across the United States. Consistent with the theory, the findings suggest a linkage between the reputation of federal agencies and people’s support for autonomy, budget, and power. Also, the reputation is positively related to agencies’ job performances and people’s favorability. These results support the previous findings which also exist in the eyes of citizen, as well as the criterion validity of our Bureaucratic Reputation Scale (BRS).