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In recent administrative and organizational literature much attention has been paid to values that guide organizational and managerial behaviour in the public and private domain. Comparative empirical research efforts, however, are sparse. This article reports the results of a comparative empirical survey of 382 managers from a variety of public and private sector organizations in The Netherlands. Contrary to much recent literature that presupposes the intermixing or convergence of value systems guiding governance in different kinds of organizations, the results of this study show two distinct and relatively classical value systems for government and business as well as a ‘common core’ of important organizational qualities. These are accountability, expertise, reliability, efficiency and effectiveness, all of which are considered crucial in both public and private sector organizations. Additional analysis shows that value preferences are primarily attached to sector rather than to age, gender, working experience, or previous employment in the other sector.