Blame, Reputation, and Organizational Responses to a Politicized Climate

  • Markus Hinterleitner
  • Fritz Sager
Part of the Executive Politics and Governance book series (EXPOLGOV)


Hinterleitner and Sager conceptualize 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 presents a threat to the reputation of PSOs, they react to these threats. While research has made progress in examining specific responses to reputational threats, the authors argue that an overarching categorization of responses is missing. The chapter adapts the concept of anticipatory blame avoidance to the decision-making of PSOs, using 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.


Public sector organizations Public service delivery Reputation Blame management Elite polarization 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KPM Center for Public Management, University of BernBernSwitzerland

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