Aiming to “construct a service-oriented government that satisfies the people”, the Chinese government has been investigating various strategies to accelerate the transformation of government functions and enhance service levels. However, it is still up for debate as to whether these “top-down” reforms actually assist local governments in acting as “agents”. In contrast, the “bottom-up” approach of improving government response, which takes into account public demands in decision-making and ensures that government and public interest incentives are compatible, can more effectively realize government service functions. For examining the service-oriented government from the perspective of government response, the Policy Advising on Television (PAT) program, which has been established in many Chinese cities, offers a solid empirical foundation.
This paper employs the DID model and PAT as a quasi-natural experiment to empirically examine the impact of service-oriented government on the total factor productivity (TFP) of firms. The findings demonstrate that PAT significantly increases TFP, and PAT with scoring, live broadcast, and strong publicity has a more noticeable impact. PAT has a greater impact on TFP in non-SOEs, start-ups, and technology-intensive firms. The mechanism analysis indicates that PAT reduces institutional transaction costs and government intervention, promotes firm entry, R&D, and innovation, and ultimately leads to an increase in TFP.
The marginal contribution of this paper is as follows: (1) It investigates, for the first time, the impact of service-oriented government on the quality of economic development from the perspective of government response, and supplements the literature on government response and the production efficiency of firms. (2) It enriches the research on the influencing factors of TFP from the perspective of institutional environment. (3) It presents an empirical basis for expediting the transformation of government functions and fostering the high-quality economic development by revealing a fresh perspective of government response.
Therefore, improving policy responsiveness is critical for constructing a service-oriented government. To effectively understand public demand, respond, and solve issues in a timely manner, it is vital for local governments to use a variety of channels for expressing public opinions and enhancing public participation. Additionally, improving the public oversight system and connecting local officials’ promotions to their performance are crucial for encouraging the government to successfully change its working methods. Finally, to achieve higher productivity enhancement, local governments should pay special attention to non-SOEs, start-ups, and technology-intensive firms, reduce inappropriate intervention, and provide timely help and support.