Surveys of citizen satisfaction with local public services have become widespread, with the results increasingly used to reorganize services, to allocate budgets, and to hold managers accountable. But evidence from a split-ballot experiment that we conducted suggests that the order of questions in a citizen survey has important effects on reported satisfaction with specific public services as well as overall citizen satisfaction. Moreover, the correlations of specific service ratings with overall satisfaction, and thus the identification of key drivers of overall satisfaction, also turn out to be highly sensitive to question order. These findings are in line with research on priming and question order effects in the survey methodology literature, but these effects have not been carefully examined before in the context of citizen surveys and public administration research. Policy and management implications of these finding are discussed. © 2011 The Authors. Public Administration,
Public Administration
Department of Public Administration

Van de Walle, S.G.J, & Van Ryzin, G.G. (2011). The order of questions in a survey on citizen satisfaction with public services: Lessons from a split-ballot experiment. Public Administration, 89(4), 1436–1450. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9299.2011.01922.x