Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

What Matters to Me! Diversified Value Perceptions in the Delivery of Public Projects

Cui, Tie; Aulton, Katharine


Tie Cui

Katharine Aulton


Public Service Logic (PSL) theory has undergone considerable development over the past years. Initially established as a challenge to the hegemony of New Public Management (NPM), PSL researchers proposed to explore public services as ‘services’ and integrate the Service Management and Marketing (SMM) theory with the Public Administration and Management (PAM) discourse. Latterly, PSL proponents articulate to examine ‘public services’ from the lens of ‘value creation’. Relevant studies have thus far examined what such value creation implies PAM, the nature of value for multiple stakeholders, and the processes through which such value can be created/destructed.
Paradoxically, despite the growing importance given to ‘value’, relevant research is enmeshed with vague definitions (e.g. Alford 2016). The value concept not only becomes ‘the most ill-defined and elusive concept in SMM (Grönroos and Voima 2013: 134)’ but also ‘continues to be undertheorized and poorly understood in PAM (Osborne et al. 2021: 2)’. In fact, before the establishment of PSL, ‘value’ has remained a hot but ‘fuzzy idea’ in the earlier debate around ‘Public Value (PV)’ (e.g. Hartley et al. 2017), concerning what value public services can add to the society.
This paper contributes to the PSL by developing a conceptual framework of value. Building upon the theoretical work of Osborne et al. (2021), the originality of this paper is that it provides empirical evidence to answer the question ‘what constitute value’ in a complex environment.
The first section of this paper reviews the current discourse on value in PSL, PMM, PV, and traditional Public Administration research. This review distilled five theoretical dimensions along which value can be gauged: the chronological dimension (long-term/short-term), the procedural dimension (value-in-production/in-use/in-context), the emotional-capability dimension, the subjective-objective dimension, and the value-values dimension.
The second section presents an embedded case study. The author investigated various value perceptions in an under-studied public management context – four city-scale carbon reduction projects. Those projects (in Edinburgh, Scotland) are inherently inter-organizational and cross-generational, enabling us to collect diversified public and private value understandings from different stakeholders. The data collection takes two rounds in 2018 and 2021, establishing a large qualitative database. Through a three-round coding analysis, the author synthesized a range of ‘themes’ to account for the elements of value. They include financial benefits, psychological satisfaction, reputational improvement, capability development for ‘private value’, and cultural, environmental, social, and economic improvements for ‘public value’.
The third part discusses the findings and explores how they engage with existing scholarship. The author corroborated two dimensions for private value: the short/long-term and life experience/life condition dimensions. Meanwhile, the empirical evidence suggests differentiating the realization of ‘public value’ in the future to the safeguarding of ‘public values’ at present. According to those dimensions, the author established a typological framework to disentangle value in PAM from an undifferentiated unity to an organized structure. This part also elaborated on how different stakeholders perceive the value of public services with varying priorities. Finally, the author concluded the potential contributions to theory and provided indications for future research.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name IRSPM 2022
Start Date Apr 19, 2022
End Date Apr 22, 2022
Deposit Date Jul 18, 2022
Public URL
Related Public URLs

Downloadable Citations