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Weder Staatsdiener noch Dienstleister. Selbstverständnis öffentlich Beschäftigter in Deutschland
Public service reforms in Germany since the 1990s have created new normative requirements for the public workforce: Public employees are supposed to incorporate not only traditional “public servant” values such as neutrality, rule-based behavior or loyalty into their professional behavior but also “service provider” values such as efficiency, flexibility and service orientation. Based on focus group discussions with employees in three sectors of the public services, this paper examines the significance and valuation of “public servant values” and “service provider values” as well as value conflicts and value interpretations. The main result is large heterogeneity in value orientations among employees in different sectors, which can be linked to the relationship between the market and the respective sector: In the police, “public servant” values dominate, but “service provider” values such as efficiency and transparency have reached the self-image of public employees even in this sector remote from the market. The newly created regulatory agency for the privatized infrastructure markets (“Bundesnetzagentur”) shows that confinement by the state to a market-regulating role results in an emphasis of public employees on “public servant” values, whereas “service provider” values are interpreted in a supporting or legitimizing role for “public servant” values. The public waste collection sector demonstrates how competition with private actors shapes the self-image of public employees, as in this sector “service provider” values have been internalized by employees, whereas “public servant” values are of little importance and are interpreted as impediment to competition. Overall, the importance of “service provider” values in all three sectors of the public services point to a new professional self-image of the public workforce as “modernized, democratic public servant” or “public service provider”.
No. 187/2015
Karin Gottschall
Andreas Häberle
Jan-Ocko Heuer
Sylvia Hils

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