Finding Exits and Voices: Albert Hirschman's Contribution to the Study of Public Services

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Albert Hirschman makes an important contribution to the study of public services with his book Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970 Hirschman, A. O. 1970. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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). Hirschman shows that exit and voice are the two main responses to dissatisfaction, with voice being more effective and desirable. His core claims are that a lack of exit opportunities increases voice, and loyalty reduces exit. The exit, voice, and loyalty (EVL) framework is very suitable for understanding how public services can perform effectively and responsively, as there are a range of exits and voices available to citizens and employees when they are dissatisfied. Though there are extensive citations of Hirschman, relatively few scholars fully apply the framework. The main exceptions are the literatures on urban services and on intentions to exit by public employees. Yet the topics of service quality, performance, competition, choice, and participation continue to be of core interest to scholars of public administration. Hirschman's insights and framework foster understanding of the relationships between different kinds of citizen responses to dissatisfaction and how to achieve better-quality public services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-529
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Mar 2016


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