International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 4

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview


VALUES ASSESSMENT . Also called "values clarification" and "values restructuring," it refers to the gathering, analysis, and utilization of stated, actual, and future (i.e., desired) values in order to improve alignment among individuals, organizations, and society at large. Stated values are what an individual or organization says it does; actual values can be either demonstrated or perceived performance or behavior; and future values are those that the organization and/or individual choose to adopt with the purpose of changing current and actual values over time. Values restructuring is caused by societal value shifts and organizational value adjustments.

Value shifts are substantial changes in social systems that consequently affect subsystems such as public administration ( Kanteret al. 1993). In stable societies, major shifts only occur every few generations. In the United States it seems to result in a 50-year cycle, epochal changes having occurred in the 1930s move to activist government, the 1880s progressivism, the 1830s Jacksonian patronageresponsiveness movement, and so on ( Lan and Rosenbloom 1992; Rosenbloom and Ross 1994). This infrequent level of substantial value changes is particularly important for us now because we are in the midst of a substantial value shift ( Peters 1992, 1994; Ingraham and Romzek 1994).

Value adjustments are the intermittent adaptations that institutional subsystems such as churches, civic organizations, and public agencies go through as a result of value shifts. Value adjustments often do not occur in a direct linear relationship with value shifts because of internal traditions, priorities, rigidities, and critical mass issues. Value adjustments occur more like the pressure that builds up for earthquakes; sometimes pressure produces a larger number of small earthquakes, and other times, there is a big earthquake with aftershocks. In the private sector, organizations that cannot make appropriate value adjustments usually go out of business. In the public sector, many agencies are not allowed to die, but they may remain in a state of suspended malaise for decades if they are unable proactively to adjust priorities and values. Value adjustments also occur at the level of the individual.

Although individual and societal perspectives are indirectly considered in this entry, it focuses on the organizational perspective. Because organizations are complex entities, it is wise to have numerous types of assessments before trying either to better align current values or adopt new values. Seven types of value assessment strategies are discussed here: (1) mission, values, and planning and vision statement assessment, (2) ethics assessments, (3) customer and citizen assessments, (4) employee assessments, (5) performance assessments, (6) benchmarking, and (7) quality assessments.

Although most organizations have performed some of these assessments within the last four or five years, few organizations have conducted all of them and, until recently, organizations often analyzed assessment information without acting on the information. Selection of a few new or revised assessment strategies is generally preferred over use of all of them because of the resources required to administer them and analyze the results. Which assessment strategies to use is largely an executive decision based on informal criteria. In practice, public-sector executives are turning more and more to customer, employee, and quality assessments for fresh perspectives.

Mission, Values, and Planning and Vision Statement Assessments

Organizations generally have formal statements of what they do, what they value, and how they plan to achieve their goals. Organizational value adjustments usually begin with a review of these statements. In the public sector, this area is deceptively complex because, as Levin and Sanger ( 1994) note, "public organizations have diverse and multiple goals, defined for them by external elements; private firms have far fewer and can define their goals themselves" (p. 69).

Mission statements represent the global purpose of an organization or system. Organizational missions generally change slowly, although it is useful to revisit them from time to time for clarity and currency, even in stable times. In the public sector, mission statements can be found in the authorizing legislation. Mission statements are also found in published documents as a part of the budget process, for public education, and for internal training purposes. So profound are many of the current organizational value changes in the public sector that some organizations are seeking or experiencing changes in their authorizing legislation to fundamentally change their core purpose.

Values statements express the organization's principles by which members will operate. Such statements were relatively uncommon in the past since values had changed little for a long time but have become much more common in the last decade. Traditional values are largely implicit and may be best explored by comparing them to values that are being adopted by many contemporary organizations. Generation of a values statement have been widely hailed as a highly useful tool for those organizations changing their values set. Table I highlights some of the general values adjustments occurring in many organizations today.

As Table I indicates, the range of values shifting is startling. At the macrolevel, there is new emphasis on competition, market incentives, continuous improvement, weeding out programs, and reengineering processes. Values about structure are now emphasizing decentralization,


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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 4
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Board *
  • Title Page *
  • R 1901
  • S 2019
  • T 2205
  • U 2297
  • V 2325
  • W 2377
  • Z 2429
  • Index 2437


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