Risk Culture in Public and Private Organizations

Barry Bozeman, Gordon Kingsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

194 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Among the many assumptions about public management widely embraced but rarely tested is the notion that public sector managers are more averse to risk than managers in the private sector. Taking a multivariate measure of "risk culture," this study seeks to identify and to explain differences between public and private organizations. The concept of risk culture pertains to managers' perceptions that their co-workers and superiors take risks and promote risk-taking. Some of the factors examined as possible determinants of risk culture include political control, nature of reward systems, levels offormalization and red tape, bureaucratic structures, and goal ambiguity. Using questionnaire data from a variety of public and private organizations, we find that there is considerable variance in organizations' risk culture but the sector of an organization tells us little about its risk culture. Risk culture is, however, well accounted for by the various explanatory factors employed here. Particularly, a riskier culture is positively related to the willingness of top managers to trust employees and to the clarity of organizations' missions. Organizations with more red tape, weak links between promotion and performance, and high involvement with elected officials tend to have a less risky culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Administration Review
Volume58
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

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manager
political control
public management
co-worker
reward
private sector
public sector
promotion
Managers
employee
determinants
organization
questionnaire
performance
Factors
Red tape
Employees
Weak links
Willingness
Private sector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

Cite this

Risk Culture in Public and Private Organizations. / Bozeman, Barry; Kingsley, Gordon.

In: Public Administration Review, Vol. 58, No. 2, 03.1998, p. 109-118.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bozeman, Barry ; Kingsley, Gordon. / Risk Culture in Public and Private Organizations. In: Public Administration Review. 1998 ; Vol. 58, No. 2. pp. 109-118.
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