Comparing the Impact of Public and Private Sector Management: A Preliminary Analysis Using Colleges and Universities
30 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
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.
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