The impact of management work habits on public sector performance: A study of local government managers

Jonathan P. West, Evan M. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study finds that hands-on strategies of working with individual managers are effective in identifying, addressing and overcoming bad management work habits. Up to now, very little has been known about the work habits of public sector managers and their impact on perceptions of organizational performance. Based on a national survey of senior managers in city governments with populations over 50,000, this study finds that while productive work habits are widely present, bad management work habits are also significantly present. The latter most commonly involve managers being overly passive, judgmental, defensive, intimidating, closed-minded or tardy in their performance. Bad (or, unproductive) management work habits significantly 1) offset performance gains from good (or, productive) management work habits, and 2) are a highly significant barrier to cultivating good work habits. Raising awareness of managers' bad habits is an essential step in addressing them. Managers' work habits are significantly associated with perceptions of organizational productivity, and addressing bad management work habits is therefore a significant pathway to higher performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-87
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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