How salient administrative burden affects job seekers’ locus of control and responsibility attribution: Evidence from a survey experiment

Jonas Krogh Madsen*, Kim Sass Mikkelsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Despite an explicit focus on citizens' experiences with public service, research on administrative burden has done little to show how burdensome experiences affect citizen’s psychological beliefs. This limits our understanding of administrative burdens and their impact in public policy. Through a survey experiment on 1.116 unemployment insurance fund beneficiaries in Denmark, we test whether activating impressions from onerous experiences with the unemployment system affects psychological beliefs central to job search and (un)employment: job search locus of control and attribution of unemployment responsibility. We show that experiences of onerous demands and complicated rules externalize respondents' locus of control and increase their propensity to attribute responsibility for unemployment to their unemployment insurance fund and its employees. Thus, experiencing administrative burdens, even from policies ostensibly designed to make beneficiaries master their situation, may shift control beliefs and responsibility attribution outward rather than inward.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Public Management Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)241-260
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • administrative burden
  • job search
  • unemployment

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