Company Culture · Startups

Is there a culture clash between the public & private sector?

Victoria Cabrera Marketing Coordinator at Patxi's Pizza

November 5th, 2015

I just read an interview on the  FD Blog  about civictech and Michael Moschella's experience at Nation Builder. One of the culture differences he observed between the private and public sector is that in the nonprofit/political world you don't really fire anyone or restructure--you layer in new folks. But once you have VC funding, you can't play that game. As more and more startups emerge to serve the government and civic sectors you inevitably need people from those sectors. Curious to hear if others agree with his statement and how you would deal with that culture clash?

Adeel Khan Seeking kickass cofounders

November 5th, 2015

Hi Victoria, 

The link you have shared is not working. 

There isn't a black and white way of structuring an organization within the public sector. It is not entirely true that all public sector institutions would focus on 'layering' individuals as you have suggested. 

Competition, on the other hand, is something that isn't inherently incentivized in the public sector. I've only had a chance to talk to a couple of individuals in the public sector, here in Canada and it seems like and this is just my interpretation that there is a general culture of maintaining the status quo. Whatever the status quo may be. Here, in Canada, the government (as an institution and not political parties) also does a relatively decent job of maintaining the civic infrastructure and for the enablement of smart and effective policies. Political corruption within the ranks of the parties is not in scope when it comes to this discussion. That's a wider debate about Social Democracies, with the consolidation of authority and how it can and does lead to political corruption. 

In due course of time, government/civics/public sector is an area that is ripe for disruption. I guess the key question is how to enable 'government as a platform'. In a future state, say 20 to 30 years out, most of the functions could be automated by virtue of making use of a combination of sorts of narrow AI that would have been trained to perform many intended functions (so the sum total of). But that does not stop us from thinking how the public sector (in general) can be made better and better efficiencies can be had by making use of more technology and more design-thinking.

When it comes to enabling change. But it is always, if not exclusively better if you have all intended stakeholders on the same page. Translated, that means that you have to embrace the system and ask the system how it can be changed. Richard Tafel has a great video on the topic of system change. Feel free to watch it here if you'd like:  (Richard Tafel: 5 Steps for Systems Change)

Hope this helps. 

Andrew Lockley Investments & consulting for tech startups

November 6th, 2015

This HR inefficiency is one of the key reasons government is fundamentally unable to operate efficiently. Brook no compromise. Take that culture out the back and shoot it.

Liza Taylor Communication Specialist at Keyideas Infotech

November 8th, 2015

Depending on the kind of project that one is working on. There isn't any culture clash, but govt work more on non-profit sectors in comparison to the private sector. There are certain departments that govt is also working towards profit-making; for instance, transport and banking in some countries are managed by the public sector. And I am sure that there won't be any conflict if both are working the above-mentioned departments.