Publications

Forthcoming
Yair, Omer, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Yoav Dotan. Forthcoming. “Can Institutions Make Voters Care about Corruption?”. Journal of Politics.
Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan. Forthcoming. “Crises, Blame, and Public Inquiries.”. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics: Crisis Analysis, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics: Crisis Analysis, ed. Sanneke Kuipers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kendel, Uri, Ofir Pinto, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Social Security Contribution Evasion in Israel: Profiling and Characteristic Analysis of Debtors.”. Social Security ( [in Hebrew]).
Kremnitzer, Mordechai, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. Forthcoming. “Proportionality and policy analysis: An integrative discussion and its applications”. Mishpat-Umimshal [in Hebrew].
2019
Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Reimut Zohlnhofer. 2019. “Policy and Blame Attribution: Citizens' Preferences, Policy Reputations, and Policy Surprises”. Political Behavior 41 (1) : 53-77. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Negativity bias suggests that the attribution of blame to governments, for alleged or actual policy failures, is disproportionately pertinent for their popularity. However, when citizens attribute blame for adverse consequences of a policy, does it make a difference which policy was it, and who was the political agent that adopted the policy? We posit that the level of blame citizens attribute to political agents for policy failures depends on three policy-oriented considerations: (1) the distance between a citizen’s ideal policy and the agent’s established policy position; (2) the distance between a citizen’s ideal policy and the agent’s concrete policy choice; and (3) the distance between the agent’s established policy position and her concrete policy choice. The inherent relationship between these three policy-oriented considerations renders their integration in one model a theoretical and methodological imperative. The model provides novel observable predictions regarding the conditions under which each of the three policy-oriented factors will produce either pronounced or subtle observable effects on blame attribution. We test the model’s predictions in two survey experiments, in Israel and in Germany. The results of both experiments are highly consistent with the model’s predictions. These finding offer an important contribution by specifying the ways in which individual-level preferences interact with politicians’ policy reputations and policy choices to shape blame attribution. Our model entails unintuitive revisions to several strands of the literature, and in the “Discussion” section we provide tentative support for the applicability of this model to other political judgments beyond blame attribution.

2018
Zamir, Eyal, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2018. “Explaining Self-Interested Behavior of Public-Spirited Policy Makers”. Public Administration Review 78 (4) : 579-592. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Public choice theory (PCT) has had a powerful influence on political science and, to a lesser extent, public administration. Based on the premise that public officials are rational maximizers of their own utility, PCT has a quite successful record of correctly predicting governmental decisions and policies. This success is puzzling in light of behavioral findings showing that officials do not necessarily seek to maximize their own utility. Drawing on recent advances in behavioral ethics, this article offers a new behavioral foundation for PCT's predictions by delineating the psychological processes that lead well‐intentioned people to violate moral and social norms. It reviews the relevant findings of behavioral ethics, analyzes their theoretical and policy implications for officials' decision making, and sets an agenda for future research

Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2018. “When Do We Care About Political Neutrality? The Hypocritical Nature of Reaction to Political Bias”. PLoS ONE 13 (5) : e0196674. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Claims and accusations of political bias are common in many countries. The essence of such claims is a denunciation of alleged violations of political neutrality in the context of media coverage, legal and bureaucratic decisions, academic teaching etc. Yet the acts and messages that give rise to such claims are also embedded within a context of intergroup competition. Thus, in evaluating the seriousness of, and the need for taking a corrective action in reaction to a purported politically biased act people may consider both the alleged normative violation and the political implications of the act/message for the evaluator’s ingroup. The question thus arises whether partisans react similarly to ingroup-aiding and ingroup-harming actions or messages which they perceive as politically biased. In three separate studies, conducted in two countries, we show that political considerations strongly affect partisans’ reactions to actions and messages that they perceive as politically biased. Namely, ingroup-harming biased messages/acts are considered more serious and are more likely to warrant corrective action in comparison to ingroup-aiding biased messages/acts. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the implementations of measures intended for correcting and preventing biases, and for the nature of conflict and competition between rival political groups.

Livnat-Lerer, Michal, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and Tehila Kogut. 2018. “Foresighted Outcome Effect: A Micro-foundation of Agents' Risk Aversion in Principal-Agent Relations”. Journal of Behavioral Public Administration 1 (1) : 1-10. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Agents' risk aversion is a long-standing source of concern in principal-agent theory and in the practice of organizations. While standard principal-agent theory assumes that principals adequately infer conclusions from noisy outcomes, behavioral research suggests that their inferences are affected by outcome bias. We take a further theoretical step, and propose that when an agent knows that the principal's evaluation of the agent's decision will be based on outcome knowledge, the agent expects the principal to be overly affected by the outcome, rather than by the merit of the choice. As a result, the agent seeks to minimize the likelihood of an adverse outcome, leading to risk aversion. The results of three laboratory experiments support this hypothesis, suggesting that under outcome-knowledge-based principal-agent relationships, agents anticipate the effect of outcome bias on principals, and adjust their ex-ante behavior by opting for less risky alternatives, a phenomenon we call foresighted outcome effect.

2016
Maor, Moshe, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2016. “Responsive Change: Agency Output Response to Reputational Threats”. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 26 (1) : 31-44. Publisher's VersionAbstract

How do reputational threats affect agency outputs? We undertake quantitative and qualitative analyses of reputation and outputs data regarding the fight against welfare fraud by the main service delivery agency for the Australian government in the field of social policy. We find that an agency’s response to reputational threats is endogenously differential both within the set of agency outputs and between agency outputs and other activities (a pattern we termed responsive change ). For the former, we find that when an agency output is below average, negative media coverage leads to an increase in output in the following year. However, this relationship is nullified for agency outputs that are about average and is reversed for outputs that are above average, that is, these outputs tend to decrease following negative media coverage. For the latter, we find that when a reputational threat is joined by a general above average level of outputs, the agency’s drive for change is likely to be channeled into activities other than the number of units of service delivered (e.g., public relations, community engagements, stakeholder consultations, etc.).

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, Mordechai Kremnitzer, and Sharon Alon. 2016. “Facts, Preferences, and Doctrine: An Empirical Analysis of Proportionality Judgment”. Law & Society Review 5 (2) : 348-382. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Legal proportionality is one of the most important principles for adjudicating among conflicting values. However, rather little is known about the factors that play a role in the formation of proportionality judgments. This research presents the first empirical analysis in this regard, relying on a sample of 331 legal experts (lawyers and legal academics). The policy domain addressed by the experiment is the antiterrorist military practice of targeted killings, which has been the subject of a legal debate. Our experimental findings suggest that proportionality judgments are receptive to normatively relevant facts. We also find strong correlational evidence for the effect of ideological preferences on such judgments. These results are consistent for two proportionality doctrines. We suggest that proportionality judgment is anchored jointly in the experts’ policy preferences and the facts of the case. We outline the implications of the findings for the psychological and legal literature.

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Yifat Holzman-Gazit. 2016. “Form and Content: Institutional Preferences and Public Opinion in a Crisis Inquiry”. Administration & Society 48 (1) : 3-30. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Crisis inquiries are intended to serve as instruments for restoring legitimacy. This intended goal has led to particular legitimacy-enhancing institutional choices in the design of these ad hoc institutions. This research utilizes a national panel study to test the effect of institutional attributes of a crisis inquiry and the content of its report on its legitimacy, and the effects of the inquiry findings on public opinion regarding the inquired issue. Our results show that only some institutional attributes predicted the legitimacy of the inquiry findings, whereas the content of the report was strongly and consistently associated with report legitimacy.

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2015
Yair, Omer, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2015. “Biased Judgment of Political Bias: Perceived Ideological Distance Increases Perceptions of Political Bias.”. Political Behavior 37 (2) : 487-507. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Accusations of political bias in the mass media, academia, the courts and various other institutions are common in many democracies. However, despite the prevalence of these accusations and the public attention they have received, research on the effects of perceived ideological distance on perceptions of political bias is lacking. Focusing on perceptions of political bias in academia, and drawing on a survey of 1,257 students in social science and law faculties in five Israeli universities, we show that the perceived ideological distance between a student and her set of professors increases perceptions of politically biased behavior of professors, and that the effects of 'left-wing' and 'right-wing' ideological distances are not symmetric. Possible implications and directions for further research are then suggested.
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Livnat, M., R. Sulitzeanu-Kenan, and T. Kogut. 2015. “The Effects of Hindsight Biased Judgment on Accountable Decision Makers”. Politika 24 : 5-32.Abstract

"הטיית השיפוט בדיעבד" מוגדרת כתופעה פסיכולוגית שבה פרטים מעריכים יתר על המידה את ההסתברות שהיו מעניקים להתרחשות תוצאה מסוימת של אירוע, לאחר היוודע להם שתרחיש זה אכן התקיים ואחרי שעמדו על תוצאותיו. הספרות המחקרית עשירה בהוכחות לקיומה של תופעה זו, ולפיכך במאמר זה נבחן סוגיה זו מזווית אחרת, אשר למיטב ידיעתנו טרם נבחנה: כיצד אדם הנמצא בעמדת שיפוט בדיעבד משפיע על אופן קבלת ההחלטות אצל גורם אחר הנתון לשיפוט זה? כלומר האם הגורם הנמצא בעמדת קבלת החלטות מושפע מכך שגורם השופט אותו עושה זאת לאחר היוודע לו תוצאות החלטותיו? חשיבותו של מחקר זו טמונה בכך שהשפעה ממשית של תופעה זו על מקבלי החלטות עשויה להביא לפגיעה בשיקוליהם המקצועיים והענייניים ולגרום לכך שהרצון להימנע מנשיאה באשמה יהיה שיקול מרכזי בהכרעתם.

במסגרת מחקר זה ערכנו ניסוי פרטני בקרב 81 סטודנטים, אשר בחן את נטייתם של הנבדקים לסיכון או לשמרנות בבחירותיהם כאשר הם נתונים לשיפוט בדיעבד.

תוצאות המחקר מלמדות כי אנשים הנתונים לשיפוטו של אדם בעל ידע בדיעבד על תוצאות החלטותיהם נוטים להירתע מסיכון יותר מאלה הנתונים לשיפוטו של אדם אשר אינו חשוף לידע זה במסגרת שיפוטו. למסקנה זו השלכה ישירה על תהליכי קבלת החלטות בכלל ועל תחום המדיניות הציבורית בפרט.

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan. 2015. “Review of Milton Lodge and Charles S. Taber, The Rationalizing Voter”. Czech Sociological Review 51 (3) : 556-558. Publisher's VersionPDF icon sulitzeanu-kenan_2015.pdf
2013
Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, and Eran Halperin. 2013. “Making a Difference: Political Efficacy and Policy Preference Construction”. British Journal of Political Science 43 (2) : 295-322. Publisher's VersionAbstract

How does individual political efficacy affect the construction of policy preferences? This article presents a model of individual-level politicization of policy preference, which draws on psychological and political explanations and posits that greater external political efficacy results in a stronger effect of political ideology on concrete policy preference. Two empirical studies that test this hypothesis are reported: an original survey experiment conducted in Israel, and an analysis that relies on the 2002 wave of the European Social Survey. The empirical findings support the hypothesis. In contrast to the established conviction that no association exists between political efficacy and policy preferences, these findings reveal that external political efficacy has a polarizing effect on expressed policy preferences.

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Maor, Moshe, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2013. “The Effect of Salient Reputational Threats on the Pace of FDA Enforcement”. Governance 26 (1) : 31-61. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Do reputational concerns affect the duration of enforcement decisions? We analyze “time to decision” in warning letter processes by two enforcement divisions within the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. We find that nearly all criticism of these divisions revolves around the FDA's primary consumer protection responsibilities (i.e., underenforcement), thus questioning the validity of the FDA's unique reputation. We also found that as media coverage of the FDA's consumer protection responsibilities becomes more positive, the agency takes enforcement decisions (warning letters) more slowly; in contrast, more critical media coverage leads to quicker action by the FDA. This effect is moderated by media salience; namely, it is found only for periods in which press coverage is relatively intense. An implication of this conditional relationship is an ability to assess the baseline role of reputation in the organization, namely, how concerned it is regarding its reputation in the absence of exogenous challenges.

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2012
Jennings, W, and R. Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2012. “The Risk and Blame Paradox”. Explorations in Governance .PDF icon jennings_and_sulitzeanu-kenan_2012.pdf
2010
Gazal-Ayal, Oren, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan. 2010. “Let My People Go: Ethnic In-Group Bias in Judicial Decisions - Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment”. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 7 (3) : 403-428. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Does ethnic identity affect judicial decisions? We provide new evidence on ethnic biases in judicial behavior by examining the decisions of Arab and Jewish judges in first bail hearings of Arab and Jewish suspects in Israeli courts. Our setting avoids the potential bias from unobservable case characteristics by exploiting the random assignment of judges to cases during weekends and by focusing on the difference in ethnic disparity between Arab and Jewish judges. The study concentrates on the early‐stage decisions in the judicial criminal process, controlling for the state's position and excluding agreements, thereby allowing us to distinguish judicial bias from other sources of ethnic disparities. We find systematic evidence of in‐group (same ethnic group) bias in detention decisions. However, in cases where the decision is to detain, no ethnic bias was found in the length of the detention. Possible interpretations and implications of these findings are discussed.

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Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan. 2010. “Reflection in the Shadow of Blame: When Do Politicians Appoint Commissions of Inquiry?”. British Journal of Political Science 40 (3) : 613-634. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Commissions of inquiry play an important role in the aftermath of crisis, by serving as instruments of accountability and policy learning. Yet crises also involve a high-stake game of political survival, in which accountability and learning pose a serious threat to incumbent politicians. The political decision of whether to appoint a commission of inquiry after a crisis thus provides a unique prism for studying the intense conflict between politics, accountability and policy learning. Using data from the United Kingdom, this study develops and tests a choice model for this political decision. The results show that the political decision to appoint inquiries into public crises is strongly influenced by short-term blame avoidance considerations, media salience and government popularity.

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