I developed a new article on relating coping and job performance. It has been published in the Journal of Public Administration, Research & Theory (the nr. 1 journal in Public Administration) and is entitled “The Relationship Between Coping and Job Performance” (Open access!).


Workers on the frontline of public service, such as teachers and social workers, cannot provide unlimited support to all their clients, because of among else scarce time and money. To deal with this, they use various coping strategies. We analyze one important coping strategy such “street-level bureaucrats” can use: prioritizing motivated clients over unmotivated clients. We study the effect of this coping strategy on job performance, as rated by their supervisors. In other words, do street-level bureaucrats who especially help motivated clients get lower or higher job performance ratings? By studying this relationship, we can test two narratives in frontline work: the state-agent narrative versus the citizen-agent narrative. If supervisors follow a state-agent narrative, they would give street-level bureaucrats that prioritize motivated clients lower performance ratings. Supervisors could stress values like legality and equality: workers should follow governmental rules and should treat all clients equally. Contrary to this, if supervisors follow a citizen-agent narrative, they would give street-level bureaucrats who especially help motivated clients higher performance ratings. Motivated clients are the “deserving clients,” worthy of investment. “Pushing” unmotivated clients may also be a very inefficient use of scarce resources. Using a multisource study of social workers in one organization in the United States, we show that supervisors give higher job performance ratings to street-level bureaucrats who prioritize motivated clients. Implications of this finding and a future research agenda are shown.


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