Ordering Stakeholder Relationships and Citizen Participation: Evidence from the Community Development Block Grant Program


Donna Milam Handley is an assistant professor of public administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she teaches in the master of public administration program. Her current research interests include intergovernmental relations, nonprofit and government performance measurement, and nonprofit advances in technology.
E-mail: dhandley@uab.edu

Michael Howell-Moroney is an associate professor of public administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has published widely on the dynamics and challenges of intergovernmental cooperation and urban policy, particularly in the areas of land use and regional cooperation. He also serves as the editor for the local government management section of the Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Policy.
E-mail: mhowellm@uab.edu


Local administrative professionals typically are accountable to multiple stakeholders, including other governmental units, special interests in the business and nonprofit sectors, and citizens. How are these accountability relationships ordered? What is the position of citizens in that hierarchy, particularly the influence of citizen participation? Focusing on patterns of hearing participation and citizen impact on budgeting decisions for the Community Development Block Grant program, this statistical analysis employs ordered probit regression. The authors find that communities in which grant administrators feel most accountable to citizens for grant performance have higher degrees of citizen participation in hearings and higher levels of perceived citizen impact on budgetary processes. This relationship holds even in the presence of simultaneity between bureaucratic accountability to citizens and citizen participation. The findings point to the importance of instilling a public service ethic among government employees that places a high value on engaging as well as listening to citizens.