Universiteit Leiden

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The prudent entrepreneurs: women and public sector innovation

Kohei Suzuki, assistant professor at Leiden University, together with Victor Lapuente, examined how male and female public managers show attitudinal differences toward innovation in the public sector.

Kohei Suzuki & Victor Lapuente
24 June 2020

Despite the large literature on gender differences in politics, there have been relatively few empirical studies testing the effects of gender in public administration. Suzuki and Lapuente hypothesize that male and female managers differ in three aspects. Firstly, female managers are more result-oriented than rule-following, and more oriented toward societal interests. Secondly, female public managers are more open to new ideas and creativity, and more willing to challenge the status quo. Yet, thirdly, female leaders are less eager to take risks when would-be innovations may put their organizations in peril. Thus, they argue that female managers are more prudent and entrepreneurial than their male counterparts. They tested these hypotheses using a data set of 5,909 senior public managers from 20 European countries. The results of multilevel model analysis find statistically significant gender differences in attitudes toward innovation. Despite the small size of gender impacts, our findings challenge prevailing stereotypes on women’s entrepreneurial attitudes.

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