Representative Bureaucracy and Attitudes Toward Automated Decision Making

Susan M. Miller, Lael R. Keiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The theory of representative bureaucracy posits that citizens will view policy and service delivery more favorably if public servants share their background characteristics. However, automation is changing public service delivery, limiting human involvement in the process. We examine attitudes toward automated decision making through the lens of representative bureaucracy, generating expectations about how a lack of passive representation will affect views toward automated versus human decision making in government. Using a survey experiment, we find evidence that black citizens are more likely to rate automated decision making higher, compared with police officers, on fairness and preference when exposed to a lack of passive representation in a police agency. We do not find evidence of this relationship for white citizens. Our findings provide insight into the way in which passive representation conditions minority citizens' views toward automation, highlighting the importance of considering representation, or lack thereof, as governments contemplate the adoption of automated services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-165
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Representative Bureaucracy and Attitudes Toward Automated Decision Making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this