This study examines how street-level bureaucrats perceive public and private sector performance. Street-level bureaucrats’ performance perceptions have been overlooked in public management research—despite the fact that such perceptions can work as a navigation tool to identify best practice examples, learn from peer organizations, and make comparative judgments of performance. Using a large-scale survey experiment of public high school teachers, we show that they are strongly biased in favor of public organizations and that this bias appears to operate through goal reprioritization. Moreover, the strength of bias in favor of the public organization increases with the length of job tenure, and it is much more pronounced among politically left-leaning teachers. Thus, the results show that street-level bureaucrats’ performance perceptions reflect a clear sector bias, which indicates a tendency to defend their professional identity, and that the strength of this bias is conditioned by personal work experiences and political values. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
- Morten JakobsenNiels Bjørn Grund Petersen
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Publiceret iInternational Public Management Journal