Volume 42, No. 4 | Gender and behavior in the public administration

Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen | Gender – the conditional but small difference

Gender differences and their significance for behavior – including job behavior – are often presented as a more or less public fact. However, we don’t know much about it. We know that the labor market is very gender segregated, but whether men and women who fill the same position carry out their tasks in different ways is less clear. Governing the public sector effectively and accommodating a norm that citizens and users are treated equally and independently of whether they interact with one or the other employee require knowledge about possible gender differences. The article takes its point of departure in institutional theory and a claim about men’s and women’s empathic capacity and analyzes male and female high-school student counselors. Does gender affect their counseling behavior? Is the effect dependent on whether the behavior is regulated by formal and informal institutions? Are gender differences due to fundamental differences in empathic capacity? The analyses show that gender is important for non-institutionally regulated behavior, but that gender differences are modest. So even if men are from Mars and women from Venus, it is not something that affects their professional job performance significantly. Also, despite empirically proven differences in the degree of empathy and  although the variation in empathy partially explains behavioral differences, it does not hollow out the effect of gender. So gender means more than differences in empathic capacity.

Lotte Bøgh Andersen and Søren Serritzlew | Gender, Public Service Motivation and Behavior

Gender may affect public service production because women’s motivation is different from men’s. However, the relevant literature on public service motivation has not systematically studied the theoretic explanation of the effect of personal traits, and existing studies fail to control for different job functions. This article examines the general effect of gender on public service motivation for 1.243 Danish wage earners distributed on 15 job functions as well as the direct and indirect effect of gender on behavior in one specific area, namely physical therapy for normal and disabled patients covered by the national health service. The test of the theoretic expectations combines register data and questionnaire data. We find that gender has the expected effect on public service motivation, but there is still a direct effect of gender (and age) on the physical therapists behavior. The article thus contributes to our knowledge on how gender affects motivation as well as behavior.

Birgitta Niklasson | The External Relationships of Public Agencies: A Question of Female and Male Leadership?

The analysis in this study tests whether there is a positive relationship between the sex of public agency chief executives and the closeness perceived in the relationships of their agencies to external actors. The purpose is to address whether a greater share of women in leading positions contributes to new work patterns. That women and men practice different leadership styles and have different competencies is a frequently used argument as to why a more even gender balance in leading positions is desirable. However, there is very little empirical evidence showing that such potential differences have any actual impacts on organisational performance. The kind of organisational performance in focus in this study is to what extent public agencies achieve a close relationship to their political superiors. The study is based on a web survey answered by 157 public agencies in Sweden in 2009, as well as on additional information received directly from the agencies. The results indicate that agencies led by women do not display a closer relationship to the government and the parent ministry. In fact, the opposite effect is found.

Bente Bjørnholt and Heidi Houlberg Salomonsen | Leadership and Goal Attainment in Central Administration – a Question of Gender?

A prominent theme within the management literature is differences in leadership of men and women. This is often investigated empirically as whether men and women describe their leadership styles differently. Although these studies do not reveal substantial differences, or even unambiguous results, numerous studies identify systematic differences in the leadership styles of men and women. The ambition of the subsequent article is to contribute to this literature by investigating whether there exists systematic differences in the behaviour of male and female managers. The article investigates the behaviour of Agency Heads in relation to goal attainment in the Danish central administration: Do male and female Agency Heads enter contracts which different goals? And do they fulfil different goals in the contracts? The article identifies differences in both the contracts, which respectively male and female Agency Heads enter as well as in their goal attainment. Hence, female Agency Heads enters more than their male colleagues contracts with a larger share of qualitative goals. Further, they fulfil a lower share of their goals, causing a lower degree of goal attainment in general. However, the educational background of the Agency Heads, the organisation of the relation between the department and the agency as well as the functions of the agency do also effect both the type of goals in the contracts as well as their goal attainment. The empirical investigation is based upon contracts and subsequent accounts of the Danish agencies.

Morten Balle Hansen | Gender, Public Service Motivation and Leadership

Traditionally, men in the public as well as the private sector have occupied top managerial positions. In recent decades this tradition has been gradually changed. Although slowly and with significant variation between countries and sectors, the share of female top managers have been increasing. This article analyze whether this demographic change may cause changes in the public service motivation and leadership behavior of top managers. Is gender significantly related to the public service motivation (PSM) and leadership behavior of public sector top managers? The article presents a short review of theories and empirical research in the relations between gender, public service motivation and leadership behavior. Based on this review hypotheses are formulated and tested in an empirical analysis of survey data from the Danish local government context. The results indicate that the behavior of female top managers are significantly more task and change oriented and significantly less policy oriented than their male colleagues, while they are motivated significantly less by PSM commitment. These findings however cannot be explained by theories based on simple gender stereotypes. Different interpretations of the findings are discussed and some implications are suggested.

Christina Fiig | A Man’s World? Vertical Gender Segregation in Government´s Administration

The article documents the level and development in vertical gender segregation during the period 1996-2008 at the highest levels of the Danish government official hierarchy (wage categories 37-42). It is shown that this gender segregation is biased with there being a relatively small number of female directors and a clear majority of male directors. It is also shown that while the proportion of women among directors in some ministries is consistently increasing, in others there are inconsistent changes and others again demonstrate a persistently low proportion during the period of investigation. Four theoretical explanations are discussed. These focus on homosocial reproduction, on the significance of networks for recruitment to leadership, on the meaning of politics and on differences in structural conditions for women and men and in the ways these are handled. In the conclusion, the argument is made that a vertical segregation is problematic. It is also argued that the demand for equal rights to participation in decision-making for women and men forms a democratic norm for participation in societal institutions. A consequence of strong vertical segregation in government´s administration is that much societal development is formed by a ”dialogue among men”.

Mogens N. Pedersen | Danish Political Science Association during half a Century

Danish Political Science Association was founded half a century ago – in 1960. After a description of the very beginning – which coincides with the beginning of Danish political science as such – the development of the association is followed along three lines. First, its national activities which have most of the time consisted in only an annual meeting for its members. Second, its relations to IPSA, NOPSA, ECPR and other international organizations are described. Finally a few words are being said about strength, but, mostly, weaknesses and omissions.

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