Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Affairs

First Advisor's Name

Alexander Kroll

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committe Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Milena Neshkova

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Can Chen

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nathan Hiller

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


performance gaming, performance management, performance information, prosocial impact, mission orientation, other-oriented constructs, prosociality

Date of Defense



The use of performance information in decision-making is central to the practice of public management and is a common feature of modern governance (Kroll, 2015; Moynihan, 2008). The purposeful use of performance information brings about many benefits for public organizations, such as enhanced democratic accountability and responsiveness, as well as improved managerial decision-making in the public interest. However, there are dysfunctional uses of performance systems, such as performance gaming. This is a behavior where organizations or individuals manipulate data or effort in a way that undermines organizational goals. The dissertation seeks to understand what factors mitigate performance gaming. Prior research in public administration has focused heavily on system factors as the drivers of performance gaming. However, other social science disciplines have examined behavioral characteristics. This dissertation draws on these disciplines to make the argument that behavioral traits, particularly other-oriented constructs (i.e., mission orientation and prosocial impact), have the potential to mitigate performance gaming. The document consists of three essays: 1) a systematic literature review, 2) an observational study, using a five-year panel data set of high schools, and 3) a two-part, randomized, experimental study, using a sample of general population participants and a sample of public managers (school leaders). The findings show that other-oriented constructs, such as mission orientation and prosocial impact, do mitigate performance gaming. Specifically, mission orientation reduces the effect of performance gaming when organizations have demanding tasks. Prosocial impact lessens performance gaming when public managers give more attention to performance data or when they are less experienced. This dissertation contributes to theory by highlighting the importance of other-oriented constructs for performance gaming behavior within public organizations. The findings have broader implications for the welfare of the general public, including directions for future research on performance gaming’s effect on historically disadvantaged groups.





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