Despite the highlighted positive effects of work autonomy, little is known about what drives street-level bureaucrats’ (SLBs’) work autonomy preferences. We propose a combined framework that applies insights from Pay-for-Performance and Prospect Theory to examine whether incentive type (monetary sanctions vs. bonus) and framing of sanctions (negative vs. positive) influence SLBs’ job autonomy preferences. We use data from a survey experiment of 208 healthcare SLBs. Bureaucrats were told their employers were required to monthly post their performance information, and then bureaucrats were assigned to one of four possible treatment groups in which we manipulated: (1) incentive type to boost performance (monetary sanction vs. financial bonus), and (2) the framing of monetary sanctions (positive vs. negative). Results report no framing effects and general preference for partial work autonomy. However, the larger the potential monetary bonus, the more likely SLBs opt for preferring full work autonomy. Findings offer practical implications for managers’ approach to encourage bureaucratic behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations
- Public Administration