Getting Ahead in the Public Sector: Perceptions of Managers in U.S. Municipalities

Mary Feeney, Julie Langer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although popular thought often portrays patronage and political connections as the primary factors associated with bureaucratic advancement, a long history of merit and performance-based reforms have sought to minimize the influence of politics on promotion in government. Although a great deal of research investigates how merit reforms have influenced perceptions of advancement at the federal level, little research investigates the factors individuals perceive as important for advancing in local government. This research seeks to understand municipal government managers’ views of the role of merit and political connections in getting ahead, and how those views vary by sex and race. Results indicate that sex, entrepreneurial work environment, department type, and previous private sector work experience are significantly related to the level of importance municipal managers ascribe to the role of merit for getting ahead. Race, entrepreneurial work environment, department type, age, previous non-profit work experience, type of government, and right to work policies at the state level are significantly related to the perceived importance of connections for advancing one’s career. We conclude with a discussion of the findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-699
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Keywords

  • advancement
  • gender
  • local government
  • merit
  • patronage
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing

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