Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7ccbd9845f-zxw8g Total loading time: 0.656 Render date: 2023-01-31T06:42:06.334Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Social Policy and Public Organizational Values*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2009


This paper began by referring to assumptions of conflict. It seems inevitable and beneficial that two sets of values should run through organization. Conflict between control and dynamism, anxiety and uncertainty, constraint and freedom, relates to the sort of work that any organization has to perform – someone has to make the running while others have to count the cost. Such conflicts are similar to general human ambivalence and form part of the dynamics of change as well as of control. But the balance to be struck between development and control is a matter of choice, which can be reinforced by structural and training patterns. This does not dispose of the issue as to whether the civil service in fact does obstruct change. This essay has argued that there are concepts relating to those values that are particularly important to public organizations. But it is virtually impossible to argue, as some have done, as to whether our present breed of administrators, are friendly or inimical to change. Nor does it answer the question of where and how social policy values are formed.

In summary, my argument has been as follows:

(a) social policy values can be classified in several different ways. A classification used here is a distinction between basic values or ‘oughts’ and concepts concerned with the ‘hows’ or with the instruments and institutions with which values are pursued. There are reciprocal relationships between these concepts but they are usefully analysed as separate relata;

(b) the values of central government civil servants and ministers will tend to be instrumental in form, though not necessarily in conflict with social policy-values, because they control complex organizations in which non-operational abstractions have to be made over the whole range of public policies;

(c) policy formulation is becoming more sophisticated, but the functions of government concerned with development and value analysis are not adequately structured or legitimated. As a result disciplined enquiry, much of which is financed by government, has inadequate impact because there is no overriding change model in which training has a part.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1974

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Michels, R., Political Parties (Translation), Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1949.Google Scholar

2 Merton, R. K., Social Theory and Social Structure, Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1957.Google Scholar

3 I refer here mainly to the important articles by Myrdal, Gunnar, Marshall, T. H., Shorr, Alvin L., McGregor, O. R. and Donnison, David in the first two issues of the Journal of Social Policy.Google Scholar

4 This distinction emerged from seminars at Brunel University with postgraduate students. I am indebted to the following for their patient working through on this point with me: Mr M. M. Chenga, Mr J. de Barros, Miss J. du Boulay, Miss M. M. Evans, Miss K. Gold, Mr F. Hancock, Mr A. Jones, Miss M. Lenn, Mrs E. Mapstone.

5 Hume, David, A Treatise of Human Nature (Ed. Mossner, Ernest C.), Book 2, Part III, Section III, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1969.Google Scholar

6 These distinctions derive from Brown, W., Exploration in Management, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1965Google Scholar. They have been further expanded in research projects under Elliott Jaques’ direction at Brunel University. See, for example, Working Relationships within the British Hospital Service, Kogan, M., Cang, S. A., Dixon, M. and Tolliday, H., London: Bookstall Publications, 1971.Google Scholar

7 Shone, K., ‘Industrial Engineering Concepts and the Child Care Service’, Case Conference, 09 1966, Vol. XIII, p. 170.Google Scholar

8 A good description of P.E.S.C. is given in the Second Report from the Expenditure Committee (Education and Arts Sub-Committee) 19701971, 545Google Scholar, Memorandum by the Treasury (pp. 125).Google Scholar

9 Thomas, H., Crisis in the Civil Service, The Great Society Series, London: Anthony Blond, 1968.Google Scholar

10 For example Donnison, D. V., ‘Committees and Committee Men’, New Society, 18 04 1968.Google Scholar

11 Bridges, E., ‘Portrait of a Profession’, Rede Lecture, London: C.U.P., 1950.Google Scholar

12 Gunn, Lewis A., ‘Politicians and Officials: Who is Answerable?’, Political Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 3.Google Scholar

13 Kogan, M., Boyle, E. and Crosland, A., Politics of Education, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1971.Google Scholar

14 Titmuss, R., Problems of Social Policy, London: HMSO, and Longman Green, 1950.Google Scholar

15 Braithwaite, W., Lloyd George's Ambulance Wagon, London: Methuen, 1957.Google Scholar

16 Gilbert, B. B., British Social Policy, 1914–1949, London: Batsford, 1970.Google Scholar

17 Bishop, A. S., ‘The Rise of a Central Authority for English Education’, London: C.U.P., 1971.Google Scholar

18 MacDonagh, Oliver, A Pattern of Government Growth, 1800–1860, London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1961.Google Scholar

19 Lambert, Royston, Sir John Simon and English Social Administration, 1816–1904, MacGibbon and Kee, 1961.Google Scholar

20 Roberts, David, Victorian Origins of the Welfare State, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960.Google Scholar

21 Kogan, et al. , op. cit.Google Scholar

22 Eide, K., ‘The Politics of Long Range Planning’ in Educational Planning in Perspective (ed. Green, Thomas), Futures, I.P.C. Science and Technology Press, 1971.Google Scholar

28 Bridges, , op. cit.Google Scholar

24 Chapman, R. A. and Dunsire, A., ‘Style in Administration’, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971, p. 44.Google Scholar

25 A discussion of American pluralism is contained in O.E.C.D. Reviews of National Policies for Education, United States, Examiners’ Report, O.E.C.D., Paris, 1971.Google Scholar

26 ‘Professional Standards in the Public Service’, A Report by a Sub-Committee of the First Division Association, Public Administration, Summer 1972, Vol. 50.Google Scholar

27 Chapman, and Dunsire, , op. cit., Introduction.Google Scholar

28 Second Report from the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, Session 1970/71, London: HMSO, 513, p. 33.Google Scholar

29 Griffith, J. A. G., ‘Legislation’, in Hanson, A. H. and Crick, B., The Commons in Transition, London: Fontana Books, 1970.Google Scholar

30 Scase, R., ‘Social Policy and Social Justice: Some Comments on Recent Developments in England and Sweden’, Social Administration Association Conference, Nottingham, 1971.Google Scholar

31 Report from the Select Committee on Education and Science, Session 1967/68, London: HMSO, 400, 12 03 1968, p. 9.Google Scholar

32 Kogan, M. with van der Eyken, Willem, County Hall, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973Google Scholar (in which chief education officers discuss the alignment of their values with teachers).

33 ‘Professional Standards in the Public Service’, op. cit.

34 This was argued in the Introduction to Politics of Education, op. cit.

35 Kogan, M., ‘Social Services: Their Whitehall Status’, New Society, 21 08 1969.Google Scholar

36 Self, P., ‘Nonsense on Stilts’: Cost Benefit Analysis and the Roskill Commission, Political Quarterly, 1970, Vol. 41, No. 3.Google Scholar

37 Klein, R., ‘The Politics of PPB’, Political Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 3, 1972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

38 Kogan, et al. , op. cit., p. 59.Google Scholar

39 Proceedings of the Expenditure Committee (Public Expenditure General) Sub-Committee, Evidence given by MrJordan-Moss, M., 23 05 1972.Google Scholar

40 Kogan, et al. , op. cit.Google Scholar

41 Estimates Committee (Sub-Committee B), Session 1969/70, Hospital Building in Britain, Great, 8 12 1969.Google Scholar

42 Kogan, et al. , op. cit.Google Scholar

43 See the impressive statements in the evidence given to the Expenditure Committee (referred to in footnote 8).

44 This was written before the publication of Framework for Government Research and Development, 07 1972, London: HMSO, Cmnd. 5046. (The Rothschild Report.)Google Scholar

45 Fry, G. K., ‘Policy Planning Units in British Central Government Departments’, Public Administration, Summer 1972, Vol. 50CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Changes can happen quite quickly. There have been important moves in at least two major departments since this article was published.

46 Grebenik, E., ‘Civil Service College: The First Year’, Public Administration, Summer 1972, Vol. 50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Social Policy and Public Organizational Values*
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Social Policy and Public Organizational Values*
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Social Policy and Public Organizational Values*
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *