USC logo

Measuring Behavioral Attributes for Federal Agencies Across Time

Published by USC Bedrosian Center on

Bedrosian Research Award Seminar


Anthony Bertelli


Behavioral attributes are observed manifestations of cognitive or emotive constructs. Aggregates of such attributes are often used at the organization level in public management research. Difficulties in measuring attributes over time and across organizations have frequently limited statistical designs to single organization or/or single time-period analyses. Focusing our attention on U.S. federal administrative agencies, we marshal a variety of questions from surveys commissioned by the Office of Personnel Management and Merit Systems Protection Board and employ statistical models to measure three important behavioral attributes — perceived discretion, job satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation — for 71 agencies between 1998-2010. As an example of their usefulness to researchers, we test whether our measures shape assessments of institutional design in the Program Assessment Rating Tool (2002-2004), showing evidence that intrinsic motivation and perceived discretion are associated with more favorable assessments. Our study provides a wealth of data for quantitative public management research designs. .


Anthony Bertelli holds the C.C. Crawford Chair in Management and Performance in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California (USC). His research interests converge on the role of political institutions in shaping public policy outcomes and organizational structures. His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals including the British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Political Studies, Public Administration Review, and Public Choice. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and International Public Management Journal

View the video on YouTube

Bedrosian Center