Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the perceived value-relevance of open data published by the Dutch Inspectorate of Education in the parents’ choice of Dutch primary schools.
Design/methodology/approach – Empirical data were collected through a mixed method strategy including quantitative and qualitative methods: quantitative surveys among parents of pupils in 25 primary schools; and semi-structured in-depth interviews using a topic list.
Findings – Parents make little use of the Inspectorate’s website compared to other information sources. The perceived usefulness of this website to parents choosing a primary school is also relatively low. Personal information gathered by school visits, written information from schools and information from other parents are more important sources.
Research limitations/implications – Subjective considerations, such as the atmosphere and ambience of a school, play an important role in parents’ choice behavior. Pragmatic considerations also play a role, such as a school’s nearness. This study shows that it is necessary to rethink the rational assumptions behind publishing performance data.
Practical implications – This study observed a mismatch between the demand and supply of open data about primary schools. The Inspectorate’s publication strategy is based on “hard” and “written” data presented on a website, but parents also appreciate “soft” and personal “oral” data. Parents state that the Inspectorate should not only focus on negative school results for censuring, but also give attention to schools that perform well.
Originality/value – Research about parents’ and citizens’ use of quality information in general is scarce. These findings show that parents’ choice behavior is less rational than assumed. Relativistic notions about decision-making processes are recognized in other studies also, but they suggest that highly educated parents are over-represented in the group of parents who actively make school choices, whereas this study found no indications that parents’ educational level affects their choices.

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doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-02-2016-0022, hdl.handle.net/1765/91641
International Journal of Public Sector Management
Erasmus University Rotterdam

de Kool, D, & Bekkers, V.J.J.M. (2016). The perceived value-relevance of open data in the parents’ choice of Dutch primary schools. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 29(3), 271–287. doi:10.1108/IJPSM-02-2016-0022