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Blame, reputation and organizational responses to a politicized climate

Type of publication Not peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Contribution to book (non peer-reviewed)
Author Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz,
Project Assessing Blame Avoidance Behavior
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Contribution to book (non peer-reviewed)

Book The blind spots of public bureaucracy and the politics of non‐coordination
Editor , Bach Tobias; Wegrich Kai
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, London
Title of proceedings The blind spots of public bureaucracy and the politics of non‐coordination

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


This chapter conceptualizes how public sector organizations (PSOs) react to elite polarization, which is as an increasingly common phenomenon in Western democracies. For politicians operating under polarized conditions, PSOs are a primary blame-deflection target. Since blame from politicians represents a threat to the reputation of PSOs, they react to these threats. While research has made progress in examining specific responses to reputational threats, an overarching categorization of responses is missing. The chapter adapts the concept of anticipatory blame avoidance to the decision-making of PSOs and uses it as an umbrella concept to categorize and systematize the reactions of PSOs. PSOs that prioritize crafting responses to reputational threats may neglect tasks and duties potentially decisive for effective and problem-oriented public service delivery.