This article assesses the validity of normative claims on how civil servant values in East Asian and Western European administrations differ. By triangulating quantitative and qualitative survey data from a sample of Chinese (n=508) and Dutch (n=238) civil servants, we aim to answer two main research questions: "How and why do ideal-type and real-life rankings of civil servant values differ between Chinese and Dutch civil servants?" and "Do differences reflect administrative traditions of both countries?" Our findings demonstrate that similarities exceed differences between value rankings. Surprisingly, ideal-type value rankings are more similar than real-life rankings, with only a few idiosyncratic differences reflecting administrative traditions. Chinese civil servants perceive institutional and systemic factors as reasons for incongruence between ideal-type and real-life rankings, whereas Dutch civil servants emphasize meso-level factors such as organizational public management reforms. We theorize on our results and we provide suggestions for future research.
International Public Management Journal