By John AlfordGovernment reformers urge the adoption of a private-sector-style “customer focus,” but critics see it as inappropriate to the public sector, in particular because it devalues citizenship. This article first argues that most public-sector organization-client interactions differ from the private-sector customer transaction. But second, it proposes that the central feature of the customer model-the notion of exchange-can be broadened in a way that accentuates the importance of administrators’ responsiveness to their publics. In a social-exchange perspective, government organizations need things from service recipients-such as cooperation and compliance-which are crucial for effective organizational performance; eliciting those things necessitates meeting not only people’s material needs but also their symbolic and normative ones.
Public Administration. Volume 62. Issue 3. ISSN: 0033-3352.
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