Private Sector Imprinting: An Examination of the Impacts of Private Sector Job Experience on Public Manager's Work Attitudes


Craig Boardman is an assistant professor in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University.

Barry Bozeman is Regents Professor and Ander Crenshaw Professor of Public Policy at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on public management, organization theory, and science and technology policy.

Branco Ponomariov is an assistant professor in public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His research interests are in the fields of science and technology policy, contracting out, and public management.


What are the attitudes of public managers who have had full-time private sector work experience? Public managers with private sector work experience report different perspectives when compared to their counterparts who have spent their entire careers in the public sector. Though private sector work experience negatively correlates with job satisfaction, it only does so for the “new switcher,” whose last job was in the private sector. As careers advance, the negative impact seems to wane, leaving a public sector workforce that, in part as a result of their private sector work experience, are relatively more intrinsically motivated and involved in their jobs. We conclude with discussion of implications for human resources management.