Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Manager-Employee Gender Congruence and the Bureaucratic Accountability of Public Service Employees: Evidence from Schools

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Manager-Employee Gender Congruence and the Bureaucratic Accountability of Public Service Employees: Evidence from Schools

Article excerpt

The role of gender in management has long been a subject of research attention and debate (Butterfield & Grinnell, 1999; Hearn & Parkin, 1983; Kanter, 1977; Marshall, 1995), and yet scholarly consensus on the relationship between gender, management, and employee behavior remains elusive.

This article expands our knowledge concerning the contribution of manager-employee gender congruence (M-EGC) to key aspects of bureaucratic accountability among public service employees. M-EGC refers to the match in personal characteristics that occurs when a manager and employee share the same gender. Bureaucratic accountability involves "the means by which public workers manage diverse expectations within and outside the organization" (Romzek & Dubnick, 1987, p. 228).

This research focus is pertinent for two reasons: First, person-supervisor fit theory, a subset of person-environment fit theory (Edwards, 2008; Kristof-Brown, 1996; Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005), suggests that a match in corresponding characteristics between supervisor and subordinate may result in positive work outcomes. Yet, public administration research on the consequences of M-EGC in public organizations is sparse (Grissom, Nicholson-Crotty, & Keiser, 2012). Private sector studies are also limited (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005) and yield conflicting results: Some studies find significant relationships, whereas others do not (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998). Meta-evidence suggests that the person-supervisor fit is associated with employee job satisfaction but finds no significant relationships with respect to performance and organizational commitment (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005). For person-supervisor studies that look specifically at gender, some studies find that M-EGC is associated with differences in outcomes (Giuliano, Leonard, & Levine, 2005; Grissom et al., 2012; Konrad, Winter, & Gutek, 1992; Tsui & O'Reilly, 1989), whereas others expect--but fail--to find such differences in outcomes (Goldberg, Riordan, & Zhang, 2008; Mobley, 1982; Pulakos, Oppler, White, & Borman, 1989). From this perspective, this article offers new knowledge concerning M-EGC in public organizations.

Second, research attention to the determinants of the bureaucratic accountability of public employees is important. Bureaucratic accountability is a key feature of representative democratic government (Bovens, 2007; Day & Klein, 1987). Due to information and time constraints, decision-making authority is delegated from the elected officials through political executives to the employees on the frontlines of the public organizations (Lipsky, 1980). However, while the public service employees are to act on behalf of the political principals, they are largely immune to electoral accountability. In addition, information asymmetry limits the potential for supervisory control and oversight (Pratt & Zeckhauser, 1985). Street-level bureaucracy literature thus emphasizes the importance of public employees' organizational goal alignment and their compliance with organizational rules and regulations (Lipsky, 1980)--two key aspects of bureaucratic accountability.

Moreover, bureaucratic accountability is a perennial public management concern (Meyers & Nielsen, 2012). Scholars and practitioners have long debated the importance and challenges involved in ensuring that public employees work tenaciously and aligned with the established policy goals (Boswell, 2006; Brehm & Gates, 1997; Kotter & Heskett, 1992; McCubbins, Noll, & Weingast, 1987; Meglino & Ravlin, 1998). Knowledge of the factors affecting their bureaucratic accountability is thus a cornerstone for public management. As no study has examined how M-EGC shapes public service employees' bureaucratic accountability, this article contributes to this end.

In particular, this article examines how M-EGC among public service employees relates to two key aspects of bureaucratic accountability: (a) organizational goal alignment and (b) compliance with organizational rules and regulations. …

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