Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Public Sector Change in Australia: Are Managers' Ideals Being Realized?

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Public Sector Change in Australia: Are Managers' Ideals Being Realized?

Article excerpt

Public sector organizations traditionally have been associated with the internal process (bureaucratic) model of organizational culture. Public choice and management theory have suggested that public sector managers can learn from the experience of private sector management, and need to change from the internal process model of organizational culture. Due to these influences on managers, the current research proposes that managers' perceptions of ideal organizational culture would no longer reflect the internal process model. Public sector managers' perceptions of the current culture, as well as their perceptions of the ideal culture, were measured. A mail-out survey was conducted in the Queensland (a state of Australia) public sector. Responses to a competing values culture inventory were received from 222 managers. Results indicated that a reliance on the internal process model persists, while managers had a desire for cultural models other than the internal process model, as hypothesized.

Organizational culture has been examined in relation to a wide range of issues. However, there has been a paucity of literature investigating the desires people, and especially managers, have for types of organizational culture. The present paper will address this gap in the literature with empirical research. It is important to examine these desires, because research suggests that managers can have an influence over organizational culture,[1] and culture itself can have an influence on organizational and individual outcomes.[2]

Management's preferences in relation to their perceptions of ideal culture could be expected to reflect contemporary beliefs about management and how organizations should be run. There has been large-scale change in public sectors around the world since the late 1980s, with strong emphasis on changing the organizational culture to better reflect that of private sector companies operating in a commercial environment.[3] This has been a significant change in focus for public sector agencies, and this has been particularly true in Australia. It could, therefore, be expected that public sector managers' ideals for culture would be strongly influenced by these changes. Examining the extent to which this has occurred is the purpose of the present paper.

Managers' Ideal Organizational Culture

There is little prior research examining managers' ideals for organizational culture. Only one paper that we could find (Harris and Mossholder)[4] utilized the competing values framework to measure managers' ideal and current perceptions of culture. There were differences between the actual and ideal culture; however, the authors did not examine these differences. Related research by Judge and Cable[5] examined the relationship between personality and ideals for organizational culture. Based on their finding that little research had examined desires in relation to culture, they examined the influence of the Big Five personality dimensions on university graduates' preferences for organizational culture. Students who were involved in campus recruiting were examined in relation to their personalities (both a self- and a peer-report), and their desires for the particular type of culture. The results showed that the five personality dimensions were related to culture preferences. Of particular interest was the finding that job seekers who were high on openness to experience were more attracted to innovative organizational cultures, and less attracted to detail-oriented cultures.

Differences between the values of private-business executives and government executives were examined by Posner and Schmidt.[6] They measured both groups of executives on a wide range of value dimensions. The evidence suggested that there were more differences than similarities. Business executives placed greater emphasis on morale, productivity, efficiency and growth, whereas government executives placed more emphasis on quality, effectiveness, public service and value to community. …

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