Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 22:4 (2012), pp. 815–840; doi:10.1093/jopart/mur064


Copyright © 2012 Mitchel N. Herian, Joseph A. Hamm, Alan J. Tomkins, and Lisa M. Pytlik Zillig. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Inc. Used by permission.


The purpose of this article is to test whether the use of public participation by a local government increases perceptions of procedural fairness among the public and to propose an explanation for why fairness is a strong predictor of satisfaction with governmental decisions. To do this, we draw on the uncertainty management model to hypothesize that indications of procedural fairness can increase public support for government and its decisions and that fairness effects are greater for individuals who are more uncertain (less knowledgeable) about the governmental body in question. To test the hypothesis, we embedded an experiment in a survey of the public that was used by a local government to inform its budgetary decisions. The results provide support for the notion that governmental use of public input does increase perceptions of governmental fairness and that, in turn, perceptions of fairness have stronger relationships with overall governmental assessments for those who are relatively uncertain about a governmental institution.