Expectations, Disconfirmation, and Citizen Satisfaction with the US Federal Government: Testing and Expanding the Model
Morgeson, Forrest V.,, III, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory
While traditionally and primarily used to explore the formation of consumer satisfaction judgments with private sector goods and services (Oliver 1980), the expectancy-disconfirmation model (EDM) has recently been employed to examine the cognitive processes influencing citizen satisfaction with government service delivery (James 2009; Poister and Thomas 2011; Reisig and Chandek 2001; Roch and Poister 2006; Van Ryzin 2004, 2006, 2007; Van Ryzin et al. 2004). The EDM suggests a dynamic relationship between the prior expectations of consumers, post-experience perceptions of the quality (or performance) of the good or service, the confirmation or disconfirmation (either positive of negative) of these prior expectations based on perceptions of performance (the gap between expectations and reality), and, finally, resulting satisfaction with an experience. The first forays into the application of this model to the domain of government services have reported generally positive results, supporting its usefulness in efforts to clarify the sources of citizen satisfaction with government services (James 2009; Poister and Thomas 2011; Roch and Poister 2006; Van Ryzin 2004, 2006).
To date, however, the EDM has only been tested using survey data of citizens experiencing urban, local, or state government services, leaving open the question of the applicability of this model to other types of government services--most notably federal government services, where there is reason to believe that citizens' expectations may function quite differently. In this article, we expand on the extant research applying the EDM to government services in two ways. First, analyzing a sample of survey responses collected in 2010 from 1480 citizens who experienced a wide variety of US federal agencies and departments, we test the EDM at this level of government and compare the results to the findings of some earlier studies. Second, we build on the existing literature by expanding the model to include some important antecedents of citizen expectations likely to influence these expectations (especially at the federal level of government), including the respondent's political ideology, party identification, and general trust in federal government.
Our findings suggest that the EDM functions well in relation to citizens who experience federal government services, largely confirming the findings of earlier research. A comparison of the parameter estimates between this study and earlier studies where the model was applied to local government services, even taking into account slight differences in sampling, data collection methods, survey methodology, and statistical analysis, reveals a close relationship. As such, the utilization of this model toward a deeper understanding of how citizens form satisfaction judgments at the federal level of government and with federal services is warranted. Furthermore, analysis of our expanded EDM finds a significant relationship between party identification, ideology, trust, and expectations, suggesting a new direction for future research using this model and providing a deeper understanding of what determines expectations (and thus satisfaction) with federal government services.
The remainder of the article is structured as follows. In the next section ("The Expectancy-Disconfirmation Model"), we outline the EDM (or its extension, the "expectancy disconfirmation with performance model"), discuss the extant literature applying this model to public sector services and make the case for both extending this research to include a unique test of citizen experiences with federal government services and for including additional antecedents of expectations to the model as it is applied to federal government services. In the section that follows (Data, Methods, and Findings), we describe the data we use to test the model, adopted from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), and the methods used to collect the data. …