New Research – Measuring Attributes with Attitudes

I am very pleased to report that a paper entitled “Measuring Agency Attributes with Attitudes Across Time: A Method and Examples Using Large-Scale Federal Surveys” and written with USC Price School Ph.D students Dyana Mason, Jennifer Connolly and David Gastwirth is forthcoming in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.  Public management researchers are interested in many characteristics of organizations that cannot be directly captured, making aggregated attitudes from surveys an attractive proxy.  Yet difficulties in measuring meaningful attributes over time and across organizations have frequently limited statistical designs to a single organization or time. We offer a method for creating such statistical measures across agencies and time using item response theory.  Focusing our attention on U.S. federal administrative agencies, we marshal a variety of questions from surveys commissioned by the Office of Personnel Management and Merit Systems Protection Board and employ statistical models to measure three important attributes — autonomy, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation — for 71 agencies between 1998-2010.  Our study provides a wealth of data for quantitative public management research designs as well as an adaptable framework for measuring a wide range of concepts. A previous version of this paper won the Herbert Kaufman Award from the American Political Science Association.  We were fortunate to receive funding for this project from the Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise.  The paper is available here: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2265678.  We hope you find it of interest!

Cabinet-Congress-President Ideal Point Data Available

I am pleased to announce that Christian Grose and I have released a datafile including the ideology estimates for U.S. presidents, legislators and cabinet secretaries used in Anthony M. Bertelli and Christian R. Grose. 2011. “The Lengthened Shadow of Another Institution? Ideal Point Estimates for the Executive Branch and Congress.” American Journal of Political Science 55(4): 767-81.  The dataset is available by following this link.

Measuring Latent Concepts in Public Management

I just returned from the Public Management Research Conference in Syracuse — a wonderful event.  My USC PhD students Jennifer Connolly (2nd year) and Dyana Mason (1st year) presented preliminary results from an ongoing project that develops longitudinal, survey-based, agency-level measures of concepts used widely in public management research between 1998-2010.  The project’s goal is to provide data that inspire a wide range of cross-agency studies.  One example is job satisfaction.  The following chart shows our measure for a sample of federal agencies.

It is notable, for instance, that job satisfaction in the Department of Education fell steadily in the aftermath of the 2001 “No Child Left Behind” legislation, while NASA and the Department of the Interior saw increases in the second Bush administration.

We hope to wrap up the project this summer and will make the data for all measures available upon publication.  We also have measures of perceived bureaucratic discretion, intrinsic motivation, and discrimination and are working on a few others.