Accueil » 39-2 ( 1984) » Privé ou public: choix et transfert du secteur organisationnel

Privé ou public: choix et transfert du secteur organisationnel

Bruno Fabi


L'auteur résume les principaux résultats d'une étude longitudinale explorant quelques variables psychologiques relatives au choix et au transfert de secteur organisationnel chez des diplômes M.B.A.


Although many commentaries have been dedicated to the comparison of the private and public sectors, relatively few empirical results can be found in the literature. This exploratory study attempts to partially fill this gap by testing two series of hypotheses: firstly, the private and public sectors would attract managers presenting significantly different psychological profiles; secondly, the transfers from one organizational sector to the other could be explained by psychological evolution. A questionnaire was mailed to 223 M.B.A. graduates during the summer of 1978, and 154 usable questionnaires were returned. The sample represented an important proportion of the 300 students enrolled, in 1974-1975, in the M.B.A. program at Quebec's French language universities. The subjects were asked to supply Personal, professional and socio-economic informations. Some psychological scales were also added to measure the following variables: professional aspirations, selfconcept, locus of control and work motivations. The longitudinal nature of this study required the use of the 1974 questionnaire again in 1978 (Allaire et al.,1975). To assure that the two groups of subjects compared were equivalent, the following characteristics were controlled: age, sex, marital status, place of birth, level of exposure to anglophone culture, and salary. To verify his hypotheses, the author resorted to the correlated t-test and to discriminant analysis. Results indicate that the group of M.B.A. students who eventually opted for the private sector demonstrated, before making this choice (1974), a stronger work orientation than their colleagues who went into public sector. According to this test (Featherman, 1969), it would appear that the first group of subjects had a higher interest in work and its intrinsic characteristics, revealing a stronger propensity to consider work as a means of self-actualization. Interpretation was based on the difference in image projected by the two organizational sectors: the work in the private sector being perceived as more captivating and demanding regarding initiative (Islam and Paquet, 1975). On the other hand, a significant increase in the level of professional aspirations was found among the subjects that had transferred from the public to the private sector over the 1974-1978 period. This phenomenon was explained by the weakness of certain personnel policies in encouraging productivity in the public sector (Brunet et al.,1979). More precisely, the inequity resulting from the lack of a perceivable relationship between work performance and organizational reinforcements was suggested to explain some departures from the public sector (Steers and Porter, 1979). This exploratory study underlines the complexity of phenomena such as the choice and transfer of organizational sector. The author formulates the customary plea for more research in order to answer the many remaining questions. Nevertheless, pertinent questions were raised concerning the comparative productivity of the private and public sectors. Results suggest that this problem should be approached by concentrating on management policies prevailing in thèse two work environments rather than on personal characteristics of the managers (Belanger, 1980; Fortin, 1982).