Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Values of Business and Federal Government Executives: More Different Than Alike

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

The Values of Business and Federal Government Executives: More Different Than Alike

Article excerpt

Managerial values are crucial to an understanding of organizational behavior. Indeed, some have claimed that the direction and vitality of "America cannot be fully understood without knowing more about the values and visions of the men and women who manage it."(1) Values are at the core of personality, influencing the choices individuals make, the people that are trusted, the appeals heard, the strategies which will be enacted, and the way individuals and organizations alike invest their time and energy. In turbulent times especially, personal and organizational values provide a sense of direction amid conflicting views and demands.(2) An organization's culture, as Peter Drucker has observed, is a function of shared values.(3)

Across a variety of disciplines researchers have shown how values affect personal and organizational effectiveness.(4) For instance, an accurate understanding of the job requirements and the organization's values has been shown to enhance people's adjustment to their jobs, as well as their subsequent level of satisfaction and organizational commitment.(5) The fit between person-organization values has shown a strong relationship to positive employee attitudes(6) and has been able to predict job satisfaction and organizational turnover a year later, and actual turnover after two years.(7) Actual operating unit performance and value congruency have also been linked.(8) Robert Haas, Levi Strauss & Co. Chairman and CEO, has argued that: "In a more volatile and dynamic environment, the controls have to be conceptual. They can't be human anymore: Bob Haas telling people what to do. It's the ideas of a business that are controlling, not some manager with authority. Values provide a common language for aligning a company's leadership and its people."(9)

In these times, when the public-private sector interface has become increasingly important, it is essential that scholars and practitioners alike, in both sectors, have an accurate perception of one another. Several studies suggest that public sector managers are different from their private sector counterparts in terms of work-related values, reward preferences, and even personality types.(10) Research has found that "decision makers in the public and private sectors differ in their perceptions of the strategic derision process."(11)

Other researchers, while noting differences, have been equally struck by the similarities across managers in public and private sector organizations.(12) For example, managers in public and private sector organizations participating in the President's Commission on Executive Exchange reported no significant differences between the values, attitudes, and skills required for success within their respective sectors.(13) One major conclusion from a comparison of managers, analysts, and politicians within state government was their value similarity: "operating in a world of shared meaning and value consensus."(14)

In this study the managerial values of public and private sector managers with an eye toward appreciating areas of agreement as well as disagreement was investigated. Observed mainly were broad areas of differences - however, sometimes the areas were masked agreement on specific values and perspectives.



The sample of business executives was provided by the American Management Association. From a random sample of 6,000 members, usable surveys were received from 1,060 managers (this 18% response rate is comparable with mail surveys for this population). Participation was voluntary and confidential. The American Management Association membership generally mirrors the characteristics of the U.S. management population.

The sample of government executives was provided by the Alumni Association of the Federal Executive Institute (FEI). The FEI is the major management training center for executives and GS-15 level managers in all federal agencies. Surveys were mailed from the FEI Alumni Association to their members and returned directly to the researchers. …

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