The purpose of this paper was to examine the relationship between image, service satisfaction and public opinion towards reforms in public organizations and postulate a more detailed relationship among them. The concept “New Public Management” (NPM) was initially suggested in the literature sometime around the early 1990s (Aucoin, 1990; Hood, 1991). NPM-style reforms raised the flag of responsiveness to citizens and improved public satisfaction with the assumption that organizational image would also be positively affected by such reforms. Image, satisfaction and support in public sector reforms are, therefore, the major focus of this study.
The focus is on a major reform in the Israel electricity industry and data were collected from 500 respondents by telephone interviews.
The findings support the authors ' hypotheses concerning the major role of image and satisfaction in forming attitudes towards NPM-style reforms. However, beyond conventional direct effects, the authors point to the mediating effect of organizational image on the relationship between satisfaction and support for reforms.
First, other factors not included in the model may influence support for NPM-style reforms in public organizations. Second, the study focused on a single organization in one country only and a very specific culture. Finally, the study is cross-sectional and may suffer from common-method and common-source biases and for this reason, should be replicated to allow better generalization and firmer implications.
The findings about the preponderance of organizational image over service satisfaction can contribute to policymakers in their efforts to increase support for reforms among the public. The results demonstrate the strong relationship between organizational image and public opinion towards reform and the secondary effect of service satisfaction.
The centrality of organizational image as a core social focus for citizens as clients and for policymakers is highlighted in the discussion. It is maintained that NPM-style reforms in the social arena, and beyond, are predominantly affected by image. Therefore, there is a need to better understand how image affects social and economic reforms and attitudes towards those reforms and what may be the social consequences of such attitudes by citizens and by policymakers’ decisions.
The originality of this study is fourfold: a unique model of image, satisfaction and attitudes towards NPM-style reforms not been studied thus far is in its current form; exploring interrelations of citizens’ satisfaction, image of the public sector and calls for reforms and change in the market-like environment of the public sphere; a telephone survey of opinions towards a specific NPM-style reform; and a focus on a major public sector organization in Israel going through reform.
Vigoda-Gadot, E. and Cohen, H. (2015), "Service satisfaction and organizational image: An empirical examination of the relationship with support for NPM-style reforms", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 2-16. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-02-2014-0004
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