Is There a Foreign Language Effect on Workplace Bribery Susceptibility? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Vignette Experiment 

Fitzgerald, J., Stroet, P., Weißmüller, K.S., & van Witteloostuijn, A.  (2024). Journal of Business Ethics. (open access)

Theory and evidence from the behavioral science literature suggest that the widespread and rising use of lingua francas in the workplace may impact the ethical decision-making of individuals who must use foreign languages at work. We test the impact of foreign language usage on individuals’ susceptibility to bribery in workplace settings using a vignette-based randomized controlled trial in a Dutch student sample. Results suggest that there is not even a small foreign language effect on workplace bribery susceptibility. We combine traditional null hypothesis significance testing with equivalence testing methods novel to the business ethics literature that can provide statistically significant evidence of bounded or null relationships between variables. These tests suggest that the foreign language effect on workplace bribery susceptibility is bounded below even small effect sizes. Post hoc analyses provide evidence suggesting fruitful further routes of experimental research into bribery.

Keywords: Bribery susceptibility; Foreign language effect; Vignette experiment 

Civil service in transition: The ongoing transformation of administrative culture

Ritz, A., & Weißmüller, K.S. (forthcoming). The Civil Service in Europe: A Research Companion. Edited by Sommermann, K., Fraenkel-Haeberle, C., & Krzywon, A., Routledge. Supported by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung. 

This chapter portrays the prior developments and future challenges that resulted in fundamental and on-going changes of administrative culture in European civil service. First, it presents the key characteristics and consequences of archetypical personnel systems that have shaped the landscape of civil service in the past. Second, prior waves of reforms are illustrated with a focus on the transformations linked with New Public Management (NPM), fiscal austerity, and societal change. Third, current developments are discussed to highlight the five most impactful developments and challenges that will shape the administrative culture of the 21st century: legitimacy, pragmatism, innovation, digital-era governance, and value-based governance. The chapter concludes that European administrative cultures are still in transition and continue to converge in many relevant aspects with private sector logics. However, NPM-related reforms and modernization stimulated by several waves of crises and societal change have not led to the predicted disintegration of civil service and the erosion of its traditional core values. Particularly in primarily career-based public personnel systems, many traditional elements remain and will have to undergo further steps of reform to successfully meet future challenges of public personnel management in a changing labour market and society.

Keywords: Public Sector Reform; Civil Service Transformation; Administrative Culture; Digital-era Governance; Value-based Governance

Fischer, C., & Weißmüller, K.S. (2024). Reference Module in Social Sciences. Elsevier.

In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, managing risks is crucial for organizational survival and success. A well-defined risk governance framework integrates risk management into various aspects of the organizational structure, aligning risk-taking and risk aversion with an organization’s mission, values, and strategic goals to enhance resilience, compliance, and sustainability. Acknowledging the ever-evolving nature of the risk landscape, the chapter underscores the importance of a risk-savvy organizational culture, the need to integrate risk management into strategic decision-making, and calls for a comprehensive approach to risk governance that addresses diverse risk categories synergistically. Challenges such as resistance to change and the impact of technological advancements on risk management further highlight the ongoing evolution of and the complexities inherent in effective risk governance. 

Keywords: Adaptive Management; Compliance; Decision-making; Holistic Management; Institutional Design; Organizational Culture; Risk Governance; Risk Management; Risk-savvy 

Seidemann, I., & Weißmüller, K.S. (2024). Public Management Review. 26(1): 334-356. [Preprint]

Workforce diversity is a key objective of public personnel policies worldwide. We augment this discourse by exploring the complementary and multifaceted concept of workforce homogeneity. This systematic literature review clarifies an elusive concept and reveals dominant causes and consequences of public sector workforce homogeneity, synthesizing how self-selection, personnel policies, and socialization create often implicit yet persistent practices that lead to workforce homogeneity. By linking these causes with their (un-)intended consequences, this study on workforce homogeneity sheds light on an important theoretical concept for public management and identifies broad avenues for future research.

Keywords: Workforce Homogeneity; Diversity; Self-selection; Public Personnel Management; Systematic Literature Review

Ritz, A., Weißmüller, K.S., & Meynhardt, T. (2023). Review of Public Personnel Administration, 43(3): 528-555. [Preprint]

A commonly held assumption is that public service motivation (PSM) positively affects individuals’ attraction to government, but there are also private and nonprofit organizations that are beneficial to the common good. Therefore, the goal of this study is to shed light on an understudied topic in Public Administration, namely, how the public value of public, private, and nonprofit organizations affects their attractiveness to citizens and how PSM moderates this relationship. We find that employer attractiveness is strongly influenced by organizations’ public value regardless sectoral affiliation. This attribution of public value interacts with citizens’ PSM. For high-PSM individuals, the relationship between public value and attractiveness is stronger than for low-PSM individuals. Furthermore, high PSM exercises an asymmetric effect, punishing organizations with low public value more strongly in the private sector. These results highlight important implications for HR practitioners in all three sectors seeking to attract and retain highly motivated employees.

Keywords: Employer Attractiveness; Public Value; Public Service Motivation; Employee Retentio; Public Human Resource Management

Weißmüller, K.S., & Zuber, A. (2023). Public Administration Review, 83(6): 1704-1726. [open access]

Public sector corruption is one of the most pressing unresolved issues of our time. Based on the Theory of Planned Behavior, this study examines the psychological and contextual mechanisms that allow individuals to psychologically rationalize their engagement in administrative corruption. By conducting a systematic literature review of 93 studies, 241 cases of empirical evidence on the relationships between micro, meso, and macro-level factors are synthesized to reveal seven dimensions which affect civil servants’ corruptibility. Mapping the status quo of the discourse, this study reveals that moral justification for administrative corruption is the outcome of a multi-layered and dynamic process of social cognition based on various processes of rationalization beyond greed: accountability conflicts, social obligations, and culturally reinforced norms (mis-)guide behavior in the context of socially varying psychological reference points of accountability and legitimacy that lead to essential value conflicts between self-serving behavior and integrity.


Keywords: Public Sector Corruption; Administrative Corruption: Micro-foundations; Rule Breaking; Institutional Deviance; Behavioral Public Administration; Systematic Literature Review

Weißmüller, K.S., Ritz, A., Steijn, A.J. (Bram), Alfes, K. (2023). Public Personnel Management. [open access] 

While it is known that life events are predictive for psychological and physiological illnesses, empirical research on the relationship between private life events and their effect on work-related outcomes in a public sector context is scarce. Based on the extended job demands-resources model, this study argues that experiencing private life events may exercise spillover effects into the sphere of professional life affecting public employees’ work engagement and their risk of burnout. Longitudinal survey data from Switzerland reveals that negative private life events are associated with an increase in burnout but not necessarily lower levels of work engagement. Furthermore, experiencing transformational leadership exerts a mild stabilizing effect on work engagement in the face of private life events while public service motivation has no moderating effect. These findings have important implications for the practice and theory of public personnel management and leadership, employee performance, and well-being. 

Keywords: Private Life Events; Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) Model; Work engagement; Burnout; Transformational Leadership; Public Service Motivation

Weißmüller, K.S. (2023). Connected World: Insights from 100 Academics on How to Build Better Connections, edited by Ivar Vermeulen, p. 226-229; ISBN: 978-90-8659-886-1, Amsterdam: VU University Press. E-Book [open access]

Complex, dynamic, and interconnected global challenges demand novel ways of thinking about problem solving, accountability, and collaboration. Modern technology offers a unique window of opportunity to reconnect with citizens and to rebuild trust through inclusive global governance. This chapter highlights the relevance of deliberative quality in international organizations to warrant citizen trust, accountability, legitimacy, and efficiency. It calls for a reform of the deliberation and decision-making processes in international organizations by including citizen voice and feedback more centrally to make global governance  more inclusive and more just.

Keywords: Deliberative Quality, International Organizations; Citizen Voice; International Bureaucracies; Multilateralism; Accountability

Kisliuk, S., & Weißmüller, K.S. (2023). Social Sciences & Humanities Open, [open access]

Theory suggests that selfless prosocial behaviors originate from motives grounded in tangible, motivational, and psychological resources, which can be activated to stimulate volunteering and charitable giving. This study investigates how individuals’ social capital may serve as such a resource; it explores the peculiar role of the strategic pursuit of relationships to predict individuals’ likelihood of engaging in prosocial behavior. Based on survey responses by n = 779 German citizens actively engaged in nonprofit hobbyist communities, we find that individuals with higher social capital are more likely to donate their incentive for study participation to charity. However, individuals who maintain relationships for strategic reasons are significantly less likely to donate. These results enhance our understanding of social capital as a conditional resource for prosocial behavior, highlighting practical implications for fundraising, and help practitioners better understand donor motivation and the relevance of networks and social capital for charity. 

Keywords: Social Capital; Prosocial Behavior; Charitable Donation; Altruism; Strategic Networking; Volunteering; Hobbyist Communities

Weißmüller, K.S., Ritz, A., & Yerramsetti, S. (2023). Public Policy and Administration, Special Issue: Strategizing and Collaboration in the Digital Transformation of Public Administration. [open access]

Digital-era governance is one of the central challenges of the twenty-first century and marks a fundamental paradigm shift in public administration. Based on the concepts of collaborative capacity and organizational maturity for co-creation, this study explores the factors that determine municipal administrations’ capacity to engage in digitalization-related collaborations. Using unique survey data from 720 Swiss municipalities, this study investigates the relevance of intra-organizational and extra-organizational factors in stimulating local governments’ likelihood of engaging in cross-sectoral and inter-organizational partnerships to implement the digital transformation. It reveals that extra-organizational impulses by digital change agents and stakeholder demand—in contrast to intra-organizational resources—are highly influential factors for municipalities to engage in digitalization-related collaborations. This study presents novel insights into the specific barriers to change and the success factors of co-creation in the process of municipalities’ digital transformation to inform theory, practice, and policy design.


Keywords: Digital Transformation; Collaborative Capacity; Digital-era Governance; Municipalities; External Stakeholder Demand; Boundary-spanning Impulses for Change

Weißmüller, K.S., Bouwman, R., & Vogel, R. (2023). Public Management Review, 25(7): 1282-1308. [Preprint]

Cross-sectoral strategic negotiation is a key challenge in PPPs. Based on framing and game theory, we investigate the effect of sectoral agency, affect, and bargaining domain on sectoral agents' bargaining behaviour in a PPP renegotiation scenario. Results confirm that public agents are more likely to bargain for satisfactory, ‘good enough’ contracts than private agents, who maximize their utility. This difference is stronger in the loss vis-a-vis the gain domain. These experimental findings advance our understanding of psychological mechanisms underlying cross-sectoral negotiations, suggesting that public managers and policy-makers account for partners' dissimilar bargaining logics to prevent asymmetric loss socialization in PPPs.

Keywords: Negotiation; Strategic Bargaining Behaviour; Bounded Rationality; Public-private Partnership (PPP); Laboratory Experiment

Meyerhofer, U., Ritz, A., Weißmüller, K.S. (2022). zfo Zeitschrift Führung + Organisation, 5/2022. [Preprint]

This case study is based on the evaluation of a medium-sized service company's experience with the principle of sociocratic decision-making in times of crisis. Due to the pandemic, major job cuts were necessary in the summer of 2020. Since the decision to introduce a sociocratic organizational model was made beforehand, the staff reduction was resolved on the basis of the consensus principle. The case study is based on an evaluation of this staff reduction process by means of qualitative and quantitative employee surveys.

Keywords: Sociocratic Decision-Making; Consensus Principle; Sociocratic Leadership; Downsizing; Crisis Management; Public Personnel Management; Case Study

Maasland, C., & Weißmüller, K.S. (2022). Frontiers in Psychology - Organizational Psychology, 13:779028. [open access]

Algorithms have become increasingly relevant in supporting human resource (HR) management, but their application may entail psychological biases and unintended side effects on employee behavior. This study examines the effect of the type of HR decision (i.e., promoting or dismissing staff) on the likelihood of delegating these HR decisions to an algorithm-based decision support system. Based on prior research on algorithm aversion and blame avoidance, we conducted a quantitative online experiment using a 2×2 randomly controlled design with a sample of N = 288 highly educated young professionals and graduate students in Germany. This study partly replicates and substantially extends the methods and theoretical insights from a 2015 study by Dietvorst and colleagues. While we find that respondents exhibit a tendency of delegating presumably unpleasant HR tasks (i.e., dismissals) to the algorithm—rather than delegating promotions—this effect is highly conditional upon the opportunity to pretest the algorithm, as well as individuals’ level of trust in machine-based and human forecast. Respondents’ aversion to algorithms dominates blame avoidance by delegation. This study is the first to provide empirical evidence that the type of HR decision affects algorithm aversion only to a limited extent. Instead, it reveals the counterintuitive effect of algorithm pretesting and the relevance of confidence in forecast models in the context of algorithm-aided HRM, providing theoretical and practical insights.

Keywords: Algorithm Aversion; Blame Avoidance; Human Resource Management; Algorithm-based Decision Support Systems; Behavioral Experimental Research

Weißmüller, K.S., & De Waele, L. (2022). Research in Higher Education, 63, 768-796. [open access] 

Bribery is a complex and critical issue in higher education (HE), causing severe economic and societal harm. Traditionally, most scholarship on HE corruption has focused on institutional factors in developing countries and insights into the psychological and motivational factors that drive HE bribery on the micro-level mechanisms are virtually non-existent. To close this research gap, this study investigates the connection between study-related burnout and university students’ willingness to offer bribes to their lecturers to pass important exams. Conducting a vignette-based quasi-experimental replication study with 624 university students in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands we find that university students in three countries differentiate sharply between different shades of bribery and that a majority accept using emotional influence tactics to pass (failed) exams. In contrast, offering a helping hand or money (i.e., darker shades of bribery) to their lecturer was less acceptable. Study-related burnout is associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in these darker shades of bribery and students’ commitment to the public interest is but a weak factor in preventing unethical behavior. In summary, this study provides solid empirical evidence that university students are likely to use emotional influence tactics violating both the ethical codes of conduct and the formalized bureaucratic procedures of HE examination, particularly if they suffer from study-related burnout. However, the accelerating effect of burnout on bribery is conditional in that it only holds for darker shades of bribery. HE institutions may benefit from implementing the four-eye principle and from launching awareness campaigns that enable lecturers to better recognize these tactics and engage students in creating a transparent environment for testing, grading, and collaboration that is resistant to bribery.

Keywords: Higher Education; Bribery; Burnout; Commitment to Public Interest

Weißmüller, K.S. (2022). Public Management Review, 24(4): 601-630. [Preprint]

Anti-public stereotypes suggest that public agents are more likely to shun risk and tolerate delay vis-à-vis private agents. Based on context dependency of administrative behaviour, this study reports experimental evidence from 22,800 choice tasks exploring the effects of publicness as a mental frame for individual risk judgement. Decision makers are not automatically triggered to deviate from predicted economic discounting behaviour when switching from a public to a private sector context. However, public sector employees in this sample systematically overestimate risks and tolerate delay in rewards compared with the general population, tentatively linking public sector affiliation with biases in risk behaviour.

Keywords: Publicness; Risk Behaviour; Probability Discounting; Delay Discounting; Behavioural Public Administration

Weißmüller, K.S., De Waele, L., & van Witteloostuijn, A. (2022). Review of Public Personnel Administration, 42(2): 258-286. [Preprint

We theorize that people with high Public Service Motivation (PSM) are especially prone to engage in prosocial rule-breaking (PSRB) behavior, which ultimately leads to discriminatory practices, particularly for clients associated with positive affect. We conduct an original vignette study in three countries (Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands) with 928 observations in total. Our findings provide tentative behavioral evidence on a linear relationship between PSM and the likelihood of PSRB and a strong positive association with client likeability, which is an asymmetric relationship: Negative affect cues have a larger negative effect than positive affect cues have a positive effect on PSRB. Although our results vary across the three country studies regarding the effects of PSM, overall, the results imply that high-PSM individuals have a tendency to being more likely to engage in PSRB and that clients who are perceived as more favorable will receive a less strict application of bureaucratic rules compared to less favorable clients. 

Keywords: Prosocial Rule-Breaking; Public Service Motivation; Risk Behavior; Multi-site design; Administrative Behavior

De Waele, L., Weißmüller, K.S., & van Witteloostuijn, A. (2021). Frontiers in Psychology - Organizational Psychology, 12:655964. [open access]

Bribery is a complex phenomenon rooted in both individual motives and the greater institutional context. Experimental research into causal mechanisms that drive bribing behavior is still scarce. To date, there is no empirical evidence on how the society-regarding motivational survey measure of Public Service Motivation (PSM) and the other-oriented motivational measure of Social Value Orientation (SVO) can help explain why some people are more susceptible to engage in the act of bribing than others. Based on a multi-site triple-replication, and a vignette-based research design, quasi-experimental evidence from Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands shows that both measures interact and that—paradoxically—people with higher SVO are more likely to be willing to engage in bribery. 

Keywords: Bribery; Public Service Motivation (PSM); Social Value Orientation (SVO); Multi-Site Design

Weißmüller, K.S. & Künzler, Philippe. (2021), 207-214.

In: Praxisfälle zu Public Management und Verwaltungswissenschaft – Ein multidisziplinärer Ansatz mit konzeptionellen Bausteinen (Case Studies in Public Management and Administrative Science A Multidisciplinary Approach with Conceptual Foundations), edited by Ritz, A., Blankart, R., Jacobs, C., Lienhard,  A., Radulescu, D., & Sager, F., Wiesbaden: Springer-Gabler. 

This case study introduces the basics of intersectoral network and cooperation management. Based on two selected Swiss federal offices, the specific challenges of networking and cooperation in the public sector are presented in order to derive recommendations for action for another organization (Swiss Federal Archives, SFA) based on the practical experiences of these two offices. The two federal offices selected are the Federal Office of Police (fedpol), which is a large federal office with 900 employees, and the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo), a medium-sized federal office with 300 employees. Both offices already have a networking and cooperation mandate at the constitutional and legislative level. In both cases, networking offers the opportunity to better cope with future challenges, especially in the fields of resource allocation and organizational innovation, but pragmatic action also entails risks. To what extent can best practices in network management - especially those from the private sector - be applied in the public sector? 

Keywords: Network Management; Cooperation Management; Best Practices; Case Study; Swiss Public Administration

Weißmüller, K.S. (2021), 289-298.

In: Praxisfälle zu Public Management und Verwaltungswissenschaft – Ein multidisziplinärer Ansatz mit konzeptionellen Bausteinen (Case Studies in Public Management and Administrative Science A Multidisciplinary Approach with Conceptual Foundations), edited by Ritz, A., Blankart, R., Jacobs, C., Lienhard,  A., Radulescu, D., & Sager, F., Wiesbaden: Springer-Gabler. 

This case study introduces the particular challenges of human resource management in the public sector using the example of the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). In the course of the so-called refugee crisis, the BAMF has faced various challenges in motivating, retaining, and selecting employees, most of whom are heterogeneous, short-term, and fixed-term, in the context of limited resources and often complex bureaucratic processes. How is it possible to ensure that fixed-term employees also identify with their employer organization? Which factors increase employee commitment, what demotivates them? Is permanent employment a general solution, and what is the role of public service motivation (PSM)?

Keywords: Motivation; Organizational Identification; Crisis Management; Public Service Motivation (PSM); Fixed-term Employees; Public Personnel Management

Weißmüller, K.S. & Künzler, Philippe. (2021), 441-449.

In: Praxisfälle zu Public Management und Verwaltungswissenschaft – Ein multidisziplinärer Ansatz mit konzeptionellen Bausteinen (Case Studies in Public Management and Administrative Science A Multidisciplinary Approach with Conceptual Foundations), edited by Ritz, A., Blankart, R., Jacobs, C., Lienhard,  A., Radulescu, D., & Sager, F., Wiesbaden: Springer-Gabler. 

Keywords: Network Management; Cooperation Management; Hybrid Organization; Public Management 

Weißmüller, K.S. (2021), 495-498.

In: Praxisfälle zu Public Management und Verwaltungswissenschaft – Ein multidisziplinärer Ansatz mit konzeptionellen Bausteinen (Case Studies in Public Management and Administrative Science A Multidisciplinary Approach with Conceptual Foundations), edited by Ritz, A., Blankart, R., Jacobs, C., Lienhard,  A., Radulescu, D., & Sager, F., Wiesbaden: Springer-Gabler. 

Keywords: Organizational Identification; Fixed-Term Employees; Motivation; Public Personnel Management 

Weißmüller, K.S., & Vogel, R. (2021). Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 31(3): 578–595. [Preprint

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have become widespread in the delivery of public services. This study explores behavioral mechanisms of building and eroding trust in partnering across sectors at the micro-level of interaction between public and private partners. Combining classic theoretical concepts on the development of interorganizational trust and administrative behavior, this study derives theory suggesting that partners’ sector affiliation may have adverse signaling effects on individuals’ intention to uphold effective partnerships over time, and that this intent may be moderated by sector-specific associations. Tested with a novel and dynamic multi-stage behavioral experiment based on the classic centipede game conducted with German graduate students (N=482; Obs.=4,338), results suggest that sector affiliation functions as a strong but potentially misleading signal for partners’ strategic behavior in PPPs and that sector-specific associations asymmetrically moderate respondents’ will to collaborate. These findings contribute to a more nuanced theoretical understanding of the micro-foundations of strategic behavior particularly at nascent stages of PPPs, calling into question basic assumptions about coordination efficiency in cross-sectoral partnerships.

Keywords: Public-private Partnership (PPP); Strategic Risk Behavior; Centipede Game; Public Service Motivation (PSM); Behavioral Public Administration

Weißmüller, K.S. (2020). Impact Free: Journal für freie Bildungswissenschaftler 32, 1-8. [open access]

This study discusses the relationship between teaching and research in higher education, Since knowledge creation without dissemination and communication is futile, it postulates that university teaching is an inherent core activity of doing science. However, the dual role of researchers who teach can create tension between research and teaching demands. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of university didactics, institutionalization and professionalization have not progressed far enough, leading to practical issues and value conflicts in the design and practice of teaching and learning. The study derives three theses to address these issues and calls for greater recognition of the importance of didactics in higher education and greater investment in professional training for academics and the enculturation of a scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education to resolve this tension.

Keywords: Enculturation of Higher Education; Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; University Teaching; Value Conflicts

Weißmüller, K.S. (2020). Impact Free: Journal für freie Bildungswissenschaftler 28, 1-9. [open access]

The growing use of Open Educational Resources (OER) in higher education has significant disruptive potential for both the societal role of institutionalized public universities and the relationship between teachers and learners. However, socioeconomic analysis perspectives are currently underrepresented in the discourse surrounding the opportunities and limitations of OER in the German-speaking university landscape. To date, profit-oriented market actors drive the provision and dissemination of OER. Regulatory gaps may lead to a loss of public institutions’ autonomy over the media used for university teaching and learning in favor for profit-oriented providers.

Keywords: Digitalization; Open educational Resources; Disruptive Technologies; Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; University Teaching

Fiedler, I., Kairouz, S., Costes, J.-M., & Weißmüller, K.S. (2019). Journal of Business Research 98 (5): 82-91.

While most gamblers spend moderate amounts of money, a few spend much more. This leads to spending being concentrated among a small number of players. Building on a body of literature that shows disproportionate spending by problem gamblers, we hypothesize that problem gambling causes such concentration. We investigate this hypothesis empirically by using GINI coefficients derived from survey datasets of gamblers from three different jurisdictions: France, Québec, and Germany. We find strong positive relationships between the GINI coefficient and (1) the share of revenue derived from problem gamblers, and (2) excess spending of problem gamblers. We interpret these results as a link between the effect of problem gambling—excessive and disproportionate spending—and concentration of gambling demand. Since the problem gambling status of players is often unknown, policy makers and gambling operators could use the GINI coefficient as an additional indicator to monitor social risk in gambling markets.

Keywords: Gambling; Demand; Concentration; Excess Spending; Social Risk

De Waele, L. & Weißmüller, K.S. (2019). Vlaams Tijdschrift voor Overheidsmanagement (Flemish Journal of Public Management) 24 (2): 43-56. [Preprint

This study examines the effects of Public Service Motivation (PSM) on pro-social and pro-self-focused forms of corruption. The research shows that PSM can help prevent pro-self-focused forms of corruption. However, a high degree of PSM encourages public service providers to circumvent certain rules and procedures, giving rise to a bureaucratic paradox: Bureaucracies attract employees with a high degree of PSM who are then more likely to break certain rules and procedures so that the principle of equal access to public services is compromised. Moreover, underlying motives seem more likely to be aimed at damaging the organization while the client's interest has a secondary role. These empirical results are based on (quasi)-experimental research that was replicated in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands with more than 600 participants.

Keywords: Public Service Motivation; Corruption; Bureaucracy; Rule Breaking; Quasi-Experiment

Weißmüller, K.S. (2020). Doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Business, Economics, and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Germany. 1st advisor: Prof Dr. Rick Vogel, 2nd advisor: Prof. Dr. Andreas Lange. [open access]

This dissertation explores the effects of publicness, uncertainty, and sector-specific attitudes on micro-level risk behavior in public-private partnerships (PPPs). Following the emerging perspective of behavioral public administration, this thesis presents extensive quantitative evidence derived from four independent experimental studies that test causal hypotheses on the interaction of economic risk, behavioral uncertainty, partner heterogeneity, and conflicting incentive structures within the complex choice environment of PPPs, specifically focusing on decision makers’ risk preferences, risk perception, and risk participation. Based on Herbert Simon’s classic work on Administrative Behavior as well as insights and methods from social psychology and behavioral economics, this dissertation contributes to the theoretical foundations of micro-level risk behavior in PPPs. Its central contributions are: (1) empirical evidence calling for a novel integrative concept of publicness as a powerful behavioral cue both priming and framing micro-level risk behavior in PPPs based on dissociated psychological clusters that trigger heuristic choice as relative cognitive benchmarks. (2) Experimental evidence that sector affiliation and sector-specific work-experience influence the interpretation of risk and sector-related information cues, revealing that public sector employment is strongly associated with risk-aversion and tolerance for delay. (3) Partners’ cross-sectoral heterogeneity in motives and logics creates behavioral ambiguity; sector affiliation functions as a complex signal that can lead to paradoxical premature PPP failure by unilaterally eroding partners’ trust in each other. (4) Public and private sector agents use dissimilar and asymmetric negotiation strategies when bargaining about financial gains and losses in PPPs; public agents negotiate less aggressively and settle on less profitable bargaining results. (5) Sector-specific attitudes and public service motivation asymmetrically moderate collaboration intent, the emergence and erosion of trust in partners, negotiation strategies in PPPs, the likelihood of (ir)rational defection, and pro-social rule-breaking. Taken together, these findings substantially advance the scientific discourse on risk behavior in PPPs by challenging core assumptions about behavioral efficiency in these partnerships. By deciphering the integrative effects of sector-specific psychological, behavioral, and contextual biases within the complex incentive structures of PPPs, this dissertation presents novel insights into the micro-foundations of risk perception, risk behavior, and risk participation in PPPs. Calling for sector-conscious strategy making and risk-savvy PPP governance, it concludes with an agenda for future research as well as recommendations for theory and practice. 

Keywords: Risk Behavior; Public-private Partnerships; Strategic Management; Anti-public Sector Bias; Deviant Behavior; Behavioral Public Administration

Weißmüller, K.S. (2019). Master’s thesis in Higher Education (M.A., with distinction) at the Hamburg Center for University Teaching and Learning (HUL), University of Hamburg, Germany. 1st advisor: Prof. Dr. K. Mayerberger, 2nd advisor: Prof. Dr. C. Bohndick. [open access] 

Institutions of Higher Education (HE) are facing challenges due to socio-political changes, and demands by globalization, digitization, and public sector austerity, leading to challenges for HE leadership. This has led to a shift away from traditional public value-oriented principles of collegial and value-oriented HE management (Public Value Orientation) towards a marketized, competition- and performance-oriented view on HE (New Public Management). While the negative effects of this paradigm shift on academic staff are well researched, there is little evidence on how top-level executives perceive and cope with this phenomenon. This thesis investigates the prevalence of NPM-related values and value trade-offs in HE leadership in Europe based on a large quantitative, multi-country dataset. The empirical evidence reveals that the paradigm shift toward NPM-logics in HE has created substantial conflict between the traditional values, identities, and goals of HE leaders and institutions, making it difficult to meet the growing and value-incongruent demands without alienating themselves and their organizations from their core mission and the traditional values of academia.

Keywords: Higher Education; Leadership; New Public Management; Public Value Orientation; New Public Management; Paradigm Shift