Get access

A Comparison of the Values and Commitment of Private Sector, Public Sector, and Parapublic Sector Employees


Sean T. Lyons is an assistant professor at the Gerald Schwartz School of Business and Information Systems at St. Francis Xavier University (Canada). His research focuses on generational differences in basic human values and work values, work-family conflict, and work attitudes in the public service. Lyons holds a doctorate in management and a master's in public administration. He has worked and consulted extensively in Canadian federal government organizations. E-mail:

Linda E. Duxbury is a professor at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University (Canada). Her research focuses on work–family conflict, supportive work environments, and stress. She was appointed to the Fryer Commission on Labor-Management Relations in the Canadian federal government and was awarded the Public Service Citation from the Association of Public Service Executives for her work on supportive work environments. E-mail:

Chris A. Higgins is a professor of management science and information systems at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario (Canada). His research focuses on the impact of technology on individuals, including computerized performance monitoring in the service sector; champions of technological innovation; office information systems; alternative work arrangements; and, most recently, work and family issues and their impact on individual organizations. E-mail:


This study investigated differences in general values, work values and organizational commitment among 549 private sector, public sector, and parapublic sector knowledge workers. No differences in general values were observed across sectors, although five significant work value differences were revealed: parapublic employees value work that contributes to society more than public servants, who value it more than private sector employees; parapublic employees value opportunities for advancement less than both public and private sector employees; public servants value intellectually stimulating and challenging work more than parapublic employees; and private sector employees value prestigious work more than public servants. Private sector employees displayed greater organizational commitment than the employees in the other two sectors. Overall, the findings suggest only limited value differences among employees of the various sectors. The finding of some work value differences between employees in the public and parapublic sectors suggests that these two groups merit separate consideration in comparative studies such as this one.