Swedes dispel a public sector myth
Recent research by AHEAD’s Swedish partner SOURCE, challenges the widely held myth that leaders in the public sector are inferior to private sector leaders. Their study investigated possible differences between each using data collected on 558 leaders assessed as part of their recruitment processes between 2007 to 2009. The focus was on cognitive and personality differences using psychometric tests (BasIQ measuring cognitive ability, Hogan’s Personality Index and Hogan Development survey).

head_w10_2Results showed that public sector leaders –mainly from central and local government – scored higher on general intelligence and no differences were reported on personality scales measuring desirable leadership traits. This indicates that the perception of public sector leaders as inferior to private sector leaders in terms of personality and cognitive ability does not hold any scientific value. The results also are in line with previous research in Sweden that claims that this is a false perception.

‘Contrary to popular belief, the only real difference that has been shown is that private sector organisations are better in presenting themselves and their reality in a more positive way,’ explains Jana Cagin from SOURCE. ‘The real difference lies in the size of the organisation – the bigger the organisation the more bureaucracy, rather than whether it is private or public. A great concern is that this perception keeps reinventing itself, not only externally but also internally as a self-fulfilling prophecy.’

‘So far SOURCE has received very positive reactions from media as well as leaders and clients in the public sector’, says Jana Cagin. ‘They are happy to receive positive feedback for once, and realize that they have to get better at communicating what makes them an attractive employer in order be able to attract talented people.’

For more information contact Jana Cagin via  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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