A framework for factoring citizen perceptions in local public service value systems to improve service quality

Leach (née Mouton), Lorette Megan (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Essential services are considered a fundamental human right, which determines the quality of life for citizens. A citizen’s ability to exercise this right should guide public service prioritisation (McDonald, 2012). However, intensifying and increasingly violent service protests indicate citizens’ dissatisfaction with the public sector, and are proof of citizens’ inability to influence service prioritisation. In an attempt to enhance public satisfaction with the quality of services, this study was conducted with the aim to examine whether factoring citizens’ public service perceptions into local public value systems would close the gap between what citizens expect and what they actually receive from the public sector. In response to the above, the chosen research design is qualitative, and included a content analysis of official documents and public records (Patton, 2003:2). Furthermore, the research design was empirical and relied on data that was (mainly) secondary, and textual by nature (Mouton, 2001:165-166). The design required a low degree of control (Mouton, 2001:144). The data upon which the research was based included predominantly secondary data, but some primary data was also incorporated through the use of an expert interview (Chuene, 2012), which served as a sound boarding technique. As for the secondary data, a document analysis of official documents and public records was employed as the main data collection method (Patton, 2003:2). Purposive sampling was employed in the selection of case examples and the sample size was determined by the application of data saturation (Fusch & Ness, 2015:1409). A comparative analysis was employed in the data analyses phase. Data was analysed by means of systematic coding and summarised according to research themes (Welman & Kruger, 2002:189). The research study focused on all three spheres of Government, as the responsibility and accountability for rendering public services are divided among the national, provincial and local spheres of Government (Zama, 2012). The research findings suggest that differences in the natures of the services offered in the public and private sectors impact on the service sector’s definition of the concepts of satisfaction, quality, and loyalty. This implies that public (collective) services have their own unique application of these concepts. Collective services cannot be assessed according to the same quality indicators that guide private sector (particular) services. Public instruments such as the Batho Pele principles are more suitable for this purpose (Roberts & Hemson, 2008:62). In the first instance, satisfaction with public services require a reorientation of the customers’ mind-set to accept that the values according to which services are produced, are altruistic and include equity, fairness and value for money (Republic of South Africa, 1997). Loyalty in the field of public sector service encompasses voter confidence and political party support due to the direct relationship between citizen satisfaction and institutional trust. Secondly, diagnosing failure in service quality through the gap analysis model (Zeithaml, Bitner & Gremler, 2009:44-45) was found to be applicable to both public and private sector services. Although the nature of the services in the public and private sectors vary, it was found that the criteria for service quality can be applied to both sectors. Moreover, citizen evaluation and perceptions constitute customer feedback regarding public services and should therefore be included in the local public service value process. Local Government is specifically equipped to facilitate citizen consultation and therefore to absorb and integrate perceptional feedback. Furthermore, the direct relationship between unconventional political participation (boycotts; protests) and service satisfaction (Roberts & Hemson, 2008:59) compels Government to facilitate dialogue with citizens through participatory monitoring and evaluative methods (Civicus & PG Exchange, 2012:2). This would also provide a constructive avenue for the pool of potential protesters to approach Government. Lastly, citizen participation has no real impact on service prioritisation and satisfaction with the public sector (Nabe, 2016: iii-iv). The omission of perceptions in public service value systems has created “negative” public value. High levels of public service outputs are not reflective of citizen satisfaction; and citizens often have different notions regarding what would satisfy their service needs. Institutional surveys and perception surveys are both required to ascertain the full extent of public service performance. These findings have enabled the operationalisation of the implementation strategy and programme of the Batho Pele White Paper. It reassessed participation and demonstrated the process of moving citizenship status from a position of claiming rights, to individualised notions of responsibility (Newman & Clarke, 2009:163-166).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Essensiёle dienste word as `n fundamentele menslike reg beskou en bepaal burgers se lewensgehalte. Die vermoё om hierdie reg uit te oefen behoort die prioritisering van openbare dienste in te lig (McDonald, 2012). Toenemend geweldadige, en versterkte diensverwante optogte dui egter op ontevredenheid met openbare dienste; en dien as bewys van die publiek se onvermoё om diensprioritisering te beїnvloed. Hierdie studie is uitgevoer in 'n poging om die publiek se tevredenheid met openbare dienste te verbeter en die gaping tussen wat burgers verwag en wat hulle eintlik in terme van openbare dienste ontvang, te vernou, deur die insluiting van openbare dienspersepsies by plaaslike openbare dienstestelsels te ondersoek. In respons tot bevermelde, is die gekose navorsings ontwerp kwalitatief, en het ook `n inhouds analise van verskeie amptelike dokumente en openbare rekords ingesluit (Patton, 2003:2). Die navorsings ontwerp was ook empiries en het staatgemaak op data wat hoofsaaklik sekondêr en teksgerig van aard was (Mouton, 2001:165-166). Die ontwerp het `n lae mate van kontrole vereis (Mouton, 2001:44). Die data waarop die navorsing geskoei is, het hoofsaaklik sekondêre data ingesluit maar primêre data is ook geїnkorporeer deur die gebruik van `n ekspert onderhoud. Die ekspert onderhoud het hoofsaaklik gedien as `n klankbord tegniek (Chuene, 2012). Vir die sekondêre data, was `n dokument analise van offisieёle dokumente sowel as openbare rekords aangewend as data insamelings tegniek (Patton, 2003:2). `n Doelgerigte benadering was onderneem tydens die steekproefneming vir die geselekteerde studie voorbeelde, en die steekproef grootte was bepaal deur die toepassing van data versadigheid om `n versadigings punt in terme van navorsings data te bereik (Fusch & Ness, 2015:1409). `n Vergelykende analise was toegepas in die data analise fase. Data is geanaliseer deur middel van sistemiese kodering, en is opgesom volgens navorsings temas (Welman & Kruger, 2002:189). Die navorsing studie is op al drie regeringsvlakke gemik, aangesien die verantwoordelikheid (asook die verantwoordbaarheid) vir openbare dienslewering berus op nasionale, provinsiale en plaaslike regering (Zama, 2012). Die studie het bevind dat die aard van verskillende dienste in die openbare en private sektore die dienstesektor se definisie van die konsepte van tevredenheid, gehalte en lojaliteit beїnvloed. Dit beteken dat openbare (kollektiewe) dienste hul eie unieke toepassing van hierdie konsepte het. Kollektiewe dienste kan nie volgens dieselfde gehalte-aanwysers as private (individuele) dienste geassesseer word nie. Openbare instumente soos die Batho pele beginsels is meer geskik vir publieke sektor doeleindes (Roberts & Hemson, 2008:62). Tevredenheid met openbare dienste vereis `n heroriёntering van publieke ingesteldheid teenoor die waardes waarvolgens hierdie dienste geproduseer word. Sulke waardes berus op die beginsels van billikheid, regverdigheid en waarde vir geld (Republic of South Africa, 1997). Lojaliteit in die openbare dienstekonteks omvat kiesersvertroue en politieke party ondersteuning as gevolg van die direkte verwantskap tussen dienstetevredenheid en institusionele vertroue (Roberts & Hemson, 2008:58). Tweedens het die studie bevind dat die die gapingsontledingsmodel, wat ontwerp is vir die diagnosering van dienstegehalte tekortkominge, op beide die openbare en private sektore van toepassing is (Zeithaml et al., 2009: 44-45). Alhoewel die aard van openbare- en private sektor dienste verskillend is, is dit bevind dat die kriteria vir dienstegehalte van toepassing is op beide sektore.

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