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Social Policy and Public Organizational Values*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2009

Extract

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.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1974

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References

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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.

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

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

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