Is government searching for different personalities?


Many scholars have touched upon the importance of civil servants’ personality, but the topic has received little systematic empirical attention. In this project I investigate desirable personality characteristics in job ads both in the public sector over time and in comparison to the private sector.

Subproject A

It has been argued that government bureaucracies nowadays are looking for a different type of civil servant than, say, 40 years ago. For example, in recent work I tried to convince my readers that governments currently value work-related creativity much more than in the previous decades (Kruyen & Van Genugten, 2017).

Together with three bright and friendly colleagues, I am currently working on a manuscript in which we investigate changes in required personality characteristics for civil servants listed in over 20,000 job ads since the 1980s. There is a lot to say about this study, but as the manuscript is currently under review, I swore to remain silent 🙏.

Subproject B

I am thrilled to announce that Textkernel, the international leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Semantic Technology for matching people and jobs, likes our research so much that they agreed to give us access to Jobfeed, their digital archive of millions of job ads.

Their data enables us to extend our single-sector study to a cross-sectoral study. Is it true that government bureaucracies are looking for different personalities than private companies as some people argue? In turn, can extrovert and creative peope, for example, better look for a job outside the public sector? We are going to find out in the next couple of months…


Kruyen, P.M. & Genugten, M.L. van (2017). Creativity in local government: Definition and determinants. Public Administration, 95(3), 825-841. Link