Comparing the Impact of Public and Private Sector Management: A Preliminary Analysis Using Colleges and Universities

30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009

See all articles by Laurence J. O'Toole

Laurence J. O'Toole

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy

Alisa Hicklin

University of Oklahoma

Kenneth J. Meier

American University; Cardiff University; Leiden University - Institute of Public Administration

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

Is public management different from private management? That has been a central concern of public administration since its founding (for reviews see Rainey and Bozeman 2000; Rainey 2003). Private sector arguments frequently claim that organizations are generic or more central to their concern (for instance Thompson 1962), that the techniques of private sector management will work equally well in the public sector as well as the private sector. Although there has been substantial debate on the question, the literature has come to no definitive conclusion. Much of the literature examines not whether management differs but whether public organizations differ from private ones. Perhaps we need to ask a different question. Our objective is to move the theoretical discussion from the query: are public organizations different from private organizations (and, with some inferential leaps, do public and private management differ)? to a more direct question – what is the relative effectiveness, in terms of outputs and outcomes, of a given managerial effort in otherwise similar public and private organizations? We start by discussing the definitions of public and private organizations and the implications these have for empirical research. We then conduct a preliminary analysis of data drawn from public and private universities to illustrate how one could determine if public management and its impact is different from that of private management.

Suggested Citation

O'Toole, Laurence J. and Hicklin, Alisa and Meier, Kenneth J., Comparing the Impact of Public and Private Sector Management: A Preliminary Analysis Using Colleges and Universities (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1450678

Laurence J. O'Toole (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy ( email )

Athens, GA 30602
United States

Alisa Hicklin

University of Oklahoma ( email )

Kenneth J. Meier

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Cardiff University ( email )

Aberconway Building
Colum Drive
Cardiff, Wales CF10 3EU
United Kingdom

Leiden University - Institute of Public Administration ( email )

P.O. Box 13228
Den Haag, 2501 EE
Netherlands

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