Perceived Fairness and Worker Well-Being in Public, For-Profit and NonProfit Firms: Evidence from the Italian Social Service Sector

  • Ermanno Tortia
Part of the AIEL Series in Labour Economics book series (AIEL)


This essay analyzes the links between workers’ fairness concerns and job satisfaction in different ownership and organizational forms of the Italian social service sector. Social cooperatives emerge as the organizational form that best sustains the perception of procedural fairness. On the other hand, the public sector shows the most serious weaknesses. A clear difference emerges between the public and the private sector in general, with the former at a disadvantage. Given the very significant role of procedural fairness in influencing job satisfaction, social cooperatives turn out as an innovative and successful organizational form, at least as far as labour relations are concerned, the difficulties in retaining their more educated and skilled workforce notwithstanding.


Public Sector Organizational Form Nonprofit Organization Procedural Fairness Career Advancement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank Carlo Borzaga for his precious comments. Of course, the standard disclaimer applies.


  1. Bacchiega A, Borzaga C (2001) Social enterprise as an incentive structure. In: Borzaga C, Defourny J (eds) The emergence of social enterprise. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Bacchiega A, Borzaga C (2003) The economics of the third sector: toward a more comprehensive approach. In: Anheier HK, Ben-Ner A (eds) The study of the nonprofit enterprise. Theories and approaches. Kluwer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Ben-Ner A, Putterman L (1999) Values and Institutions in economic analysis. In: Ben-Ner A, Putterman L (eds) Economics values and organization. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UKGoogle Scholar
  4. Benz M (2005) The Relevance of procedural utility for economics. Institute for Empirical Research in Economics University of Zurich, Working Paper 26Google Scholar
  5. Benz M, Stutzer A (2003) Do workers enjoy procedural utility? Applied Economics Quarterly 49:149–172Google Scholar
  6. Benz M, Frey B, Stutzer A (2004) Introducing procedural utility. Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 160:377–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borzaga C (ed) (2000) Capitale umano e qualità del lavoro nei servizi sociali. Fondazione Italiana del Volontariato, RomeGoogle Scholar
  8. Borzaga C (2003) L’analisi economica delle organizzazioni nonprofit: teorie, limiti e possibili sviluppi. In: Borzaga C, Musella M (eds) Produttività ed efficienza nelle organizzazioni nonprofit. Edizioni31, TrentoGoogle Scholar
  9. Borzaga C, Depedri S (2005) Interpersonal relations and job satisfaction: Some empirical results in social and community care services. In: Gui B, Sugden R (eds) Economics and social interaction: accounting for interpersonal relations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UKGoogle Scholar
  10. Borzaga C, Mittone L (1997) The multi-stakeholders versus the nonprofit organizations. University of Trento Department of Economics Discussion Paper 7Google Scholar
  11. Borzaga C, Tortia E (2006) Worker motivations, job satisfaction and loyalty in public and non-profit social services. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 35:225–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Borzaga C, Tortia E (2007a) Social economy organizations in the theory of the firm. In: Clarence E, Noya A (eds) The social economy. Building inclusive communities. OECD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  13. Borzaga C, Tortia E (2007b) The growing social content of cooperative firms: an evolutionary interpretation. 1st CIRIEC Research Conference on the Social Economy. Victoria, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  14. Borzaga C, Tortia E (2008) Social enterprises and local development: an evolutionary approach. Mimeo, University of Trento, Department of EconomicsGoogle Scholar
  15. Depedri S (2003) La ricerca: metodologia campione e principali risultati. In: Borzaga C, Musella M (eds) Produttività ed efficienza nelle organizzazioni nonprofit. Edizioni31, TrentoGoogle Scholar
  16. Depedri S (2007) Livelli di soddisfazione e fedeltà dei lavoratori. Impresa Sociale 17:193–211Google Scholar
  17. Granovetter M (1985) Economic action and social structure: the problem of embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology 91:481–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hansmann H (1996) The ownership of enterprise. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar
  19. Lazear EP (1995) Personnel Economics, MIT Press, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar
  20. Tortia E (2007) Worker well-being and perceived fairness: survey-based findings from Italy. Journal of Socio-Economics 37:2080–2094CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Weisbrod BA (1977) The voluntary nonprofit sector. Lexington Books, Lexington MAGoogle Scholar
  22. Weisbrod BA (1988) The nonprofit economy. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ermanno Tortia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Trento and European Institute for Cooperative and Social EnterpriseTrentoItaly

Personalised recommendations