More dissimilar than alike? Public values preferences across US minority and white managers

AuthorRandall S. Davis,Shannon Portillo,Edmund C. Stazyk
Published date01 September 2017
Date01 September 2017
More dissimilar than alike? Public values
preferences across US minority and white
Edmund C. Stazyk
| Randall S. Davis
| Shannon Portillo
Department of Public Administration
& Policy, State University of New York at
Albany, New York
Department of Political Science, Southern
Illinois University, Carbondale, IL
School of Public Affairs & Administration,
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Edmund C. Stazyk, Department of Public
Administration & Policy, State University of
New York at Albany, 135 Western Avenue,
320 Milne, Albany, NY 12222.
Interest in public values has grown considerably over the past two
decades. Much of this attention reflects a growing awareness that
public values hold considerable significance for citizens and public
employees. Yet, despite the rapid expansion of research on public
values, we still know little about the role of race in shaping and
determining public employeesvalues preferences. To begin reme-
dying this gap, this article examines whether minority and white
public managers in large US local governments exhibit the same
value preferences when making departmental decisions. Results
from a multiple group confirmatory factor analysis indicate that
minority and white managers express similar preferences for tradi-
tional public administration values; however, minority managers
report a stronger preference for both traditional public administra-
tion (e.g., efficiency and effectiveness) and social equity-oriented
(e.g., equity, representation) values.
Public values and their role in decision-making for public officials continue to be an important topic in public man-
agement (Witesman and Walters 2014; Bozeman and Johnson 2015; Hamidullah et al. 2015; Van der Wal
et al. 2015). Although scholars regularly discuss differences in values based on sector (Perry and Rainey 1988; Boze-
man and Moulton 2011; Van der Wal 2011; Pandey et al. 2016), specific policy focus, and even gender (Hamidullah
et al. 2015), we still know little about how perceptions of public values differ by race. This article considers how
perceptions of values differ along racial lines in local government service. Two sets of values are examined: tradi-
tional public administration values related to efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism and social equity values
related to representation, rights, and opportunity.
While the concept of public values has garnered significant attention, it is still underspecified (Rutgers 2015) and
empiricalapplication has been limited.Scholars have called formore work addressing the normative implicationsof pub-
lic values (Bozeman and Johnson 2015). This article responds to such calls by empirically exploring differences in the
espousedvalue preferences of seniorlocal government officials.Using data from PhaseIV of the National Administrative
Studies Project,the study explores howvalue preferences are framedby race for local governmentmanagers. We begin
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12343
Public Administration. 2017;95:605622. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd 605
by examining thestatus of values research, before reviewing the role public valuesassume in public administration,and
then relate publicvalues research to racial framing. Given the continued relevance of racein policy implementation and
outcomesin the US context, it is imperativeto conduct studiesdesigned to examine raceas a theoretically relevantvaria-
ble. We concludewith a discussion of the practicaland normative implicationsof study findings.
Since Rokeach's (1973) work on terminal and instrumental values in the 1970s, values have assumed a prominent
role in management research. Much of this attention stems from a considerable body of evidence that demonstrates
that values influence individual behaviour as well as employee and organizational performance. Values both derive
from and are a component of an individual's belief system, reflecting preferences for particular outcomes or end
states (Rokeach 1973). In a management context, values are useful constructs in so far as they help explain what is
important for individual employees as well as the organization (Rokeach 1973; Locke 1976; Kabanoff et al. 1995).
At the individual level, values are associated with employeesaffective on-the-job behaviour (Rokeach 1973;
Locke 1976; Lyons et al. 2006). Values shape the importance employees attach to their work (Rokeach 1973). When
employees believe that their work comports with their own values, they exert more energy toward the completion of
tasks and are more likely to engage in activities that benefit organizations (Locke 1976; Kristof-Brown 1996; Ryan
2002). When employees struggle to connect their work and values, job satisfaction, motivation, and performance
decline and employee turnover becomes more likely (Locke 1976; George and Jones 1996; Kristof-Brown 1996). Fur-
thermore, employeesinteractions with elements of their work environment (e.g., managers and supervisors) can
enhance or diminish the likelihood that employees will believe their organization facilitates value attainment (Lewin
1951; Locke 1976). For example, employees who believe that managersvalues overlap with their own are more likely
to report that they fitwith their organizations, which in turn impacts performance (Kristof-Brown 1996).
At the organizational level, values and value management are frequently seen as the bedrock upon which suc-
cessful management practices rest. Values can be communicated by organizational leadership and become
embedded in an organization's culture (Rokeach 1979; Schein 1985; O'Reilly and Chatman 1996; Pandey
et al. 2016). Strongly held, homogeneous values are associated with improved performance and motivation (Pinder
2008), whereas poor performance, declining motivation, and unethical behaviour are blamed on changing and/or
ambiguous organizational values and cultures (Meglino and Ravlin 1998; Nord et al. 1988). Consequently, successful
management requires creating organizational cultures grounded upon shared value systems (Pinder 2008).
Despite widespread consensus that values matter to employees and organizations, several problems have pla-
gued research. As Pinder (2008, p. 100) notes, many of these problems are methodological in nature, emerging from
concerns that it can be difficult to empirically determine whatworkers actually value. If researchers are unable to
identify what workers value, then it becomes difficult to predict howthey will behave (Pinder 2008, p. 100).
Fortunately, public administration scholarship has devoted considerable time and attention to mapping values
associated with public servicetypically referred to as public values(Bozeman 2007; Jørgensen and Bozeman
Moreover, public organizations generally, and graduate education in public administration specifically,
appear to play a strong role in inculcating a set of shared common beliefs and values among practitioners (Mosher
1982; Nalbandian and Edwards 1983; Perry 1996; Stazyk and Davis 2015).
Individual public values, defined as the content-specific preferences of individuals concerning, on the one hand,
the rights, obligations, and benefits to which citizens are entitled and, on the other hand, the obligations expected
of citizens and their designated representatives(Bozeman 2007, p. 14), are significant for at least two additional
A second stream of research not examined explores how public administrators createvalue for citizens (Moore 1995; Pag e
et al. 2015).
There may be links between public values and public service motivation (PSM). Future research might examine more deeply the
connections between the types of public values examined here and PSM.

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