Public Value and Happiness: Evidence from Public Administration in Switzerland

Research output: Journal contributionsConference article in journalTransfer


The factors that make people satisfied with their lives have been thoroughly researched by economists. It has been found that individual level, socioeconomic, macroeconomic as well as institutional factors can explain to a large extent why some people are happy with their lives and others are not. The public value debate in public management research has concentrated on the question how public administration organizations’ broader societal outcomes can be understood and measured. Public value describes how public administrations form a vital part of the social context, in which people develop and grow. However, it has not yet been analyzed how the public administration contributes to happiness. We propose to link the two debates by analyzing empirically the relationship between public administration’s public value and people’s happiness. Our empirical approach is based on a novel and unique dataset from Switzerland which comprises 870 individuals, who reported on their happiness and evaluated the Swiss public administration’s public value in a survey. Using OLS regression to test our hypotheses, we found support for a positive relationship between public administration public value and happiness. Also, a model that includes public administration’s public value as an explanatory variable explains significantly more variance than the standard happiness model. We discuss the implications of our findings for public administration performance measurement, economic models for explaining wellbeing as well as broader questions of political economy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT ANNUAL MEETING PROCEEDINGS 2015: Opening Governance - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 07.08.201511.08.2015
Conference number: 75 (Link to program)