Sector Bias and the Credibility of Performance Information: An Experimental Study of Elder Care Provision

Kenneth J. Meier, Miyeon Song, Jourdan A. Davis, Anna A. Amirkhanyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reporting government performance to the public is key tool in improving accountability. Some evidence, however, has shown that individuals’ anti-public sector biases may distort performance information about public organizations. Using an experimental vignette on U.S. nursing homes, this study fills four gaps in the literature: (1) the need to include nonprofit organizations rather than just public and for-profit, (2) consideration of the credibility of the source of performance information, (3) the use of simple commonly used performance metrics, and (4) the willingness to use services as a performance dimension. We find the public has a general but modest anti-for-profit sector bias in nursing home care with nonprofits perceived the most positively. Sector biases generally disappear when clear performance data are presented. The credibility of the source matters, and respondents' willingness to use organizational services is more sensitive to both sector bias and performance ratings than are performance measures. Practitioner Points: In the field of long-term care, individuals have no anti-public sector bias, and they have more favorable views of nonprofit organizations than for-profit organizations. Perceived sector bias disappears when simple and unambiguous performance information is introduced. The source of performance information matters: individuals perceive the information from government and nonprofit sources as more credible than that from for-profit sources. A high degree of credibility amplifies the effect of performance information in shaping individuals’ evaluations of public services.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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