The Structure and Measurement of the Work Values of Chinese Civil Servants: The Case of Hangzhou City Government

By Zhang, Weiwei; Chen, Huixiong | Public Personnel Management, December 2015 | Go to article overview

The Structure and Measurement of the Work Values of Chinese Civil Servants: The Case of Hangzhou City Government


Zhang, Weiwei, Chen, Huixiong, Public Personnel Management


Introduction

Civil servants are agents of implementing state policies according to laws, and manage the national administrative and public affairs. Their job performance directly affects the government's work efficiency and the quality of life of its residents (Mingzheng & Man, 2014). To ensure the efficiency of the government administration, good job performance of civil servants is highly required, which means they should show their initiative, efficiency, and innovativeness on the job. A research has shown that the job performance of civil servants is affected by multidimensional factors (Hongming & Jianqiao, 2011) among which the most important one is the work values of the civil servants. Research has already established a relationship between work values and job performance of employees and has also shown that there exists significant correlation between the work values and performance evaluation results (Frieze, Olson, Murrell, & Selven, 2006; Locke & Henne, 1986; Shapria & Griffith, 1990). Researchers have also explained how work values not only influence job satisfaction but also have effect on job performance (Fishbein, 1967). Hegney and Plank have provided detailed explanations about the mechanism of the influence process. They found that both inner and outer work values can have effects on employees' job satisfaction and job performance. Among the work values, the degree of protection of autonomous rights that an employee experiences has direct effect on job satisfaction. At the same time, pressure plays a role of intervening variable between inner work values and job satisfaction because the emotional and physical requirements on employees leads to the work pressure, which reduces job satisfaction. Likewise, the three dimensions of outer work values--salary, colleagues' support, and professional development--can make positive impacts on job satisfaction. Yunxiang (2014) analyzed the influence of mechanism of work values on job performance by analyzing the data of 1,768 Chinese civil service employees.) He thinks the effects made by work values on job satisfaction appears primarily on work attitudes, intentions, and objectives, and then on the actual behavior and efforts.

The work reference above has demonstrated that work values of civil servants are important variables that affect job performance. Our interest is to establish a comprehensive method to assess the work values of the civil service employees and find areas of improvement. In the light of previous research, it is hoped that these steps could indirectly help improve the job performance of the civil service employees.

Generally, the Work Value Inventory (WVI) is adopted for such assessments. The WVI proposed by Super in 1970 and another proposed by Manhardt in 1972 are the two most widely used work value inventories in the world. However, the Chinese administrative system, traditional culture, and the level of economic development are significantly different from other economies and are not aligned with these inventories. What is more, service as a civil servant in China is quite a special career that requires a specific moral constraint and a spirit of dedication, which is likely related to the work values. Benz (2005) has already pointed out that government employees attach more importance to job satisfaction in their work rather than their emoluments.

However, is the emolument really not that important to the civil servants? Zhaopin. com has reported an analysis of talent flow among Chinese civil servants in spring of 2015. The report showed that a new wave of job-hopping fever has appeared. During the 3 weeks from February 25, more than 10,000 civil servants and public enterprise employees nationwide had delivered their resume through this website, reaching a 34% growth rate compared with the same period in 2014, which make them the most active group among the cross-industry job-hoppers. …

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