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Room for leadership? A comparison of perceived managerial job autonomy in public, private and hybrid organizations

Abstract

The study contributes to our knowledge of leadership in public organizations on three specific areas. First, it is a unique exploration of whether managers in publicly owned organizations perceive less job autonomy than managers in privately owned and hybrid organizations. Hybrid organizations are defined in two categories: shareholder companies with both public and private owners, and public companies (organizations selling their products or services, but publicly owned). Second, the study investigates possible mechanisms - more specifically formalization and professionalization - through which organizational ownership (public, private, and hybrid) is assumed to affect managerial autonomy. Finally, the study incorporates important confounding variables – first and foremost size (number of employees), task (technology), and hierarchical level - missing from many other comparisons of public and private organizations. The main findings support the notion that perceived managerial autonomy in publicly owned organizations is lower than in both hybrid and private organization. These differences are not, however, explained by differences in formalization and professionalization.