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Public Value

Public Value

Public value is chosen to be at the very heart of the City Canvas. It is something that desirable, worthwhile, important and is considered as main driver for and influencer of decisions we make. They form the motor, the overarching driver. for what we do and hope for. 


The definition of public value by Mark Moore (1995) is adequate and precise. We will use this as starting point:

“Values are not only arbitrated by individuals within organization, networks or society as a whole itself but also as a collective, acting through the instrumentality of representative government. The collective of society is represented formally by the city council but in broader sense it could be communities or networks that deliberate with one another and decide what the purposes of the public organizations, network or society will be.”

Accordingly Benington and Moore (2011) public value can be defined as follows:

“The value that government creates through its citizens and which citizens themselves value. It should be understood not simply as ‘what does the public most value’ but as ‘what adds most value to the public sphere?”

What about 'needs' and 'wants'?

To be clear about values and to prevent misunderstandings. Values interact with needs and wants. A need is something that is necessary or required and a want is something unnecessary but desired. All actors on the public canvas have their values, which interact with needs and wants.

The humanistic psychologist Maslow (1943) described a hierarchy of needs. He used the physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, self-actualization and self-transcendenceto describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. 

Types of public value

There are several  types of values: the balance of the system, a concrete and promised output, a desired or effective outcome for the object or receiver and an elegant and effective process.

The balance of the system as public value.


A concrete and promised output.


A desired or effective outcome for the object or receiver.


An elegant and effective process

Beside that it is the actor who can gain or loose prestige or respect in doing respectively failing in the delivery of public values. This is a value on itself, but is not marked as a public value.

The selected core colours for expressing the type of public value are Pantone® Serenity, the cool tranquil blue, that “psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security” (Pantone) and and Pantone ® Old Gold.



Maslow, A.H. (1943), A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-396. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm  

Moore, Mark H. (1995), Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government. Harvard University Press, 416 pp.

Benington John & Mark H. Moore (2011), Public Value: Theory & Practice. Palgrave MacMillan

Photo: Eastbourne coast line, © Jack Kruf

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