Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, May 4, 2018

Moynihan article chosen as 2017’s best by Academy of Management

Moynihan article chosen as 2017’s best by Academy of Management

The Academy of Management’s Public and Nonprofit Division selected a study co-authored by La Follette School Director and Professor Don Moynihan as the best article published in 2017.

“The committee was very impressed with the article’s theoretic contribution and methodological rigor,” the selection committee wrote about the article “How Do Politicians Attribute Bureaucratic Responsibility for Performance? Negativity Bias and Interest Group Advocacy.”

The article used an experiment with Danish elected officials to understand how politicians became more or less likely to hold school principals responsible for outcomes when given different types of performance data. The results found that “the provision of performance data makes elected officials more willing to attribute causal responsibility to bureaucratic leaders, but only in cases of low performance, suggesting a negativity bias in public sector responsibility attribution processes.”

Moynihan and co-author Poul Nielsen of the University of Southern Denmark also found evidence that “interest group advocates influence how elected officials use performance information to attribute responsibility, but contingent on ideological alignment.”

Any paper published on public or nonprofit management in 2017 was eligible for the award, which Moynihan previously won in 2002 when he was a graduate student.

“I’m honored to receive this award,” said Moynihan, “since it recognizes the growing effort by a broad group of researchers to use behavioral science to understand public management.”

The La Follette School’s Behavioral Insights for Govenrment lecture series has presented behavioral science research to state and local policymakers.

They will receive the award August 12 during the Academy of Management (AOM) Annual Meeting in Chicago.