Professional values and organizational decision making

Robert A Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Professions and organizations institutionalize values. These values may clash when professionals participate in organizational decision making. This article investigates the interplay between professional values and organizational purposes in the organizations that formulated federal subsidized housing policy between 1968 and 1977. Policy professionals in these organizations are committed to public finance theory, a branch of welfare economics that stresses policy criteria consistent with classical liberalism. Public finance theory was consistently influential in the President's Office of Management and Budget, briefly influential in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and never influential in Congress. Objections to it, though never codified, can be inferred from the public finance prescriptions Congress rejected. Professionals rationalize rejections of their preferred policies by defining standards of good policy as sharply distinct from political realities that legitimately affect policy determinations. This definition, however, unnecessarily compromises the integrity of organizational deliberations and, thereby, the integrity of organizational purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-60
Number of pages40
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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