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Comparing Public and Private Sector Organizational Values

When people want to transition from careers in the

public sector to opportunities in the private sector, they have to embrace new ways of how they approach these positions. It’s not just getting used to new organizational structure, goals/objectives, and required skills, but such transitions require rethinking which values are important and which ones are less so.

Let’s review the results of research that compared most/least important values in the public sector with those in the private sector (according to public sector executives).

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The rankings were influenced slightly by gender and age of respondents, years of employment, previous working experience in the other sector, and organization culture. Other studies have shown that younger public sector employees plane more importance on career work values than older employees, though work values are also influenced by personal preferences. Low ranking values does not imply such values are not important, but only that they were seldom mentioned as organizational values in decision making.

Further analysis revealed that “profitability, innovativeness, and honesty” are clear private sector values while “lawfulness, impartiality, and incorruptibility” are clear public sector values. Common core values were revealed to be “accountability, expertise, reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness.”

The ranking of such values may differ when subjects from other job functions are tested; the same could be said for the generalizations of the study results for other countries because values and ethics are tightly correlated with cultural traditions and preferences.

Nevertheless, the comparisons and contrasts provide a basic values map for individuals seeking to transition careers from one sector to the other.

(from Public Administration Vol. 86, No. 2 2008 (465 – 482).

Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of the newly released Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).

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