Accountability intensity and bureaucrats’ response to conflicting expectations : a survey experiment in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1779-1801
Journal / PublicationPublic Management Review
Issue number11
Online published1 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


Grassroots bureaucrats are confronted with multiple accountability pressures which result in diverse or even conflicting expectations. Based on a survey experiment conducted in China, this study examines how bureaucrats respond to the divergent expectations of upper-level authorities and local citizens and how the intensity of such accountability influences those responses. The findings show that although bureaucrats tend to put more effort into tasks that are aligned with citizens’ interests, over-stringent accountability may crowd out their intrinsic motivation to serve the public and push them to follow top-down instructions mechanically. Intensified accountability may not necessarily lead to better policy outcomes.

Research Area(s)

  • Accountability, bureaucrats, conflicting expectations, public service motivation (PSM), survey experiment