The Dilemma of the Unsatisfied Customer in a Market Model of Public Administration


  • Janet M. Kelly

    1. Janet M. Kelly is the Albert A. Levin Professor of Urban Studies and Public Service at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Her research interests include public financial management, budgeting, intergovernmental fiscal relations, and performance measurement. She recently published Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government with William C. Rivenbark. E-mail:
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The relationship between administrative service performance and citizen satisfaction has been assumed, but not demonstrated, in the application of market models to public service delivery. Although the citizen satisfaction literature cautions that the link between objective and subjective measures of service quality is tenuous at best, public-sector professional organizations define a managerial focus on objective measures of service performance as accountability to citizens for outcomes. What if we're wrong?