RSS Feed


More Articles: Latest Popular Archives

Culture of Underperformance in public sector organisations

Contributor: |


The Public sector is suffering from high levels of morale-sapping internal politics, poor board reputation and a failure to tackle underperformance at a time when it is undertaking significant change that it cannot afford to under-deliver on, according to findings that emerge from “The Management Agenda 2008” report.   

Now in its eleventh year the report, published by management institute Roffey Park, looks at a number of issues surrounding how managers from across the Public, Private and Not-for-profit sectors view the workplace. The results show that the Public sector is falling behind in a number of critical areas.  The report has found that:


  • The findings show that just 6% of public sector organisations reported high morale amongst there workforce, a stark contrast to 33% within the Not-for-Profit sector and 24% in the Private Services sector
  • The report suggests that the clichéd inability of Public sector managers to motivate teams and deal with poor performance is, in fact, reality with only four per cent of respondents from the Public sector believing underperformance is tackled ‘very well’ within their organisations
  • Public sector organisations falter when it comes to commitment in their stated values with levels of cynicism rising contrasting a reduction in cynicism from the Private and Not-for-Profit sectors
  • Over two thirds of Public sector respondents reported that their organisations’ values do not reflect the reality compared to 44% from other sectors
  • Private sector boards enjoy a relatively high reputation with their employees whereas 43% of Public Sector employees rate the internal reputation of the board as negative or very negative compared to only 25% in the Private Service sector.

In addition to these findings,  the research found that office politics, the primary cause of workplace stress, is much more entrenched in the Public Sector than elsewhere. Three quarters of respondents from the Public sector say political behaviour has increased in their organisation in recent years, compared to half from the Private sector. In addition, one in two Public sector respondents report that political behaviour is one of the main factors causing conflict within their organisations. 

The report authors, Annette Sinclair and Gemma Robertson-Smith, said: “All sectors are experiencing structural and systematic change, but, compared to Private and Not-for-profit sectors, change in the Public sector is more prolific. 

“The Public sector is seen as less capable of managing this change effectively – set against a backdrop of elevated office politics, little faith in leadership and organisational values and less inclination to manage underperformance.” 


Receive more HR related news and content with our monthly Enewsletter (Ebrief)