Skip to main content

Values (in public services)

Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project

PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > T, U, V > Values (in public services)

Values (in public service)

Values are enduring beliefs that influence our attitudes and actions.

(Kernaghan, 2006, p. 75.)


Values are enduring beliefs that influence our attitudes and actions. Values influence the choices we make from among available means and ends. (Rekeach, 1973, p. 5).

Over the past two decades, public service values have become a major component of the management of public organizations, not only in Canada but also in many other countries around the world. On the basis of a comprehensive examination of public sector values, Montgomery Van Wart, a U.S scholar, concluded that values are so deeply embedded in public management that “[t]he art of values management for practitioners has already become the leading skills necessary for managers and leaders of public sector organizations” (Wart, 1998, p. 319). Public service values occupy a central place in Canada’s Tait Report, which concluded that public service reform “must be animated from within by sound public service values”, by “values consciously held and daily enacted, values deeply rooted in our own system of government, values that help to create confidence in the public service about its own purpose and character, values that help us to regain our sense of public service as a high calling” (Canada, 2000, p. 4).

Both the Van Wart book (1998, p. xiv) and the Tait Report (Canada, 2000, p. 4) draw attention to the difference between the closely related concepts of values and ethics. These two concepts should not be used interchangeably because ethical values are a sub-set of values in general. The Tait Report classifies values into four main categories, or “families”, of values-democratic values, ethical values, professional values and people values. This classification has now been widely accepted in Canada’s public administration community and has been entrenched in the federal government’s Values and Ethics Code and in other official documents.


Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance