Does Good Performance Reduce Bad Behavior? Antecedents of Ethnic Employment Discrimination in Public Organizations

Thorbjørn Sejr Guul, Anders R. Villadsen*, Jesper N. Wulff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Equal treatment is a key feature of modern bureaucracy. However, several studies have shown that public organizations discriminate against ethnic and racial minorities to different degrees. Which organizational features explain differences in discrimination is largely unknown. This article proposes that organizational performance relates to an organization's likelihood of engaging in employment discrimination and argues that poor-performing organizations tend to be less open to new ideas and that decision makers in such organizations are more prone to stereotyping behavior. The study combines a field experiment in which applications were sent to real job vacancies in 71 Danish public schools with administrative data on the schools. Bayesian analyses show that minority applicants generally faced discrimination but that they experienced a higher callback rate from better-performing schools than from poorer-performing schools. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Administration Review
Volume79
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)666-674
Number of pages9
ISSN0033-3352
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by The American Society for Public Administration

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