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School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences Working Paper Series, School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences

No 09-2015:
Putting on the velvet glove: The paradox of "soft" core values in "hard" organizations

Arild Wæraas ()

Abstract: Following New Public Management and Reinventing Government reforms, public sector organizations are expected to pursue values such as efficiency, performance, and accountability, reflecting a ‘hard’ identity as managed organization. By examining the contents of 394 core value statements retrieved from U.S. federal agencies, this study examines the importance of these values relative to other values reflecting alternative identities. It finds that the agencies prefer to rely on ‘soft’ values such as integrity, respect, openness, and customer orientation to express their identities. The paper discusses the implications of these findings for our understanding of organizational actorhood in a public sector context.

Keywords: Actorhood theory; organizational identity; public sector values; construction of organization; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: L22; M10; M14; (follow links to similar papers)

34 pages, April 15, 2015

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