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The Motivational Bases of Public Service: Foundations for a Third Wave of Research


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Research on public service motivation has garnered significant attention from scholars, especially in the last two decades. This article divides the evolution of the research into three waves: definition and measurement; assessing and confirming construct validity and diffusion of the construct; and learning from past research and filling shortcomings and gaps. Significant contributions and benchmarks of the first two waves are identified. Four foundational activities are discussed that are present and will be important for advancing public service motivation research during the third wave. Some aspects of the research in the Asia Pacific region are highlighted.
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The motivational bases of public
service: foundations for a third wave of
James L. Perrya
a School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University,
Bloomington, IN 47405-1701, USA
Published online: 24 Mar 2014.
To cite this article: James L. Perry (2014) The motivational bases of public service: foundations
for a third wave of research, Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, 36:1, 34-47, DOI:
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The motivational bases of public service: foundations for a third
wave of research
James L. Perry*
School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-1701,
(Received 10 December 2013; accepted 26 January 2014)
Research on public service motivation has garnered signicant attention from
scholars, especially in the last two decades. This article divides the evolution of the
research into three waves: denition and measurement; assessing and conrming
construct validity and diffusion of the construct; and learning from past research and
lling shortcomings and gaps. Signicant contributions and benchmarks of the rst
two waves are identied. Four foundational activities are discussed that are present
and will be important for advancing public service motivation research during the
third wave. Some aspects of the research in the Asia Pacic region are highlighted.
Keywords: public service motivation; research designs; construct reliability;
multiple incentives
The motivational bases of public service have become a major focus of research in
public administration during the last quarter of a century. This article seeks to charac-
terise the evolution of the research since its inception. The evolution of the research is
broken into three distinct periods or waves. The aims are to describe concisely the
progression of the research during the three waves and to articulate an agenda for
research during the third wave in which the eld is now situated. Some special
emphasis is given to research about public service motivation that focuses on the Asia
Pacic region.
Public service motivation research: waves one and two
As the title of this article suggests, scholars have already been immersed in two waves
of research about public service motivation. These two waves are characterised here,
leading into a discussion of the third wave, which is the primary focus of the article.
Wave one: denition and measurement
Research about public service motivation is usually associated with the publication of
two articles. The rst, Reward Preferences among Public and Private Managers: In
Search of the Service Ethic, authored by Rainey, appeared in the American Review of
© 2014 The University of Hong Kong
Asia Pacic Journal of Public Administration, 2014
Vol. 36, No. 1, 3447,
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Public Administration in 1982. The second, The Motivational Bases of Public
Service, was co-authored by Perry and Wise in 1990 and appeared in the 50th anni-
versary volume of Public Administration Review.
Raineys(1982) attention to the service ethic arose from a comparative study of
reward preferences among a sample of public and private managers.
His inferences
about public service motivation were a result of pronounced differences between two
survey items: engaging in meaningful public service; and doing work that is helpful to
other people. He concluded: Since the sharp differences on this item appear to be
meaningful, they also underscore the need for further development of the concept of
service motivation(Rainey, 1982, p. 298).
Raineys call for the development of a concept of public service motivation,
which he asserted might be an overarching or multi-faceted concept(1982,
p. 299), went unanswered for almost a decade before Perry and Wise formally
dened the concept and articulated its components. Perry and Wise (1990)dened
public service motivation as an individuals predisposition to respond to motives
grounded primarily or uniquely in public institutions and organizations(p. 368).
They identied theoretically three types of public service motives: rational,
normative and affective.
Growth of scholarship following the publication of these two articles was not
immediate. Although Perry and Wise (1990) cited Rainey (1982) in their article, few
scholars responded to Raineys call for research on the service ethic. Several factors
were likely responsible for the lack of immediate response. One was Raineys limited
development of the concept in his 1982 article. The lack of immediate response was
also a product of the 1980s when, as Perry and Wise (1990) noted, rational choice
models were dominant and public decision makers were waiting for merit pay and sim-
ilar incentive programmes to bear fruit. In the US federal government, policy makers
ended their love affair with merit pay in 1993 when the Performance Management and
Recognition System (PMRS) ended. This opened a window for research that moved
the distinctive characteristics of public service to the centre of the motivational nexus.
The next development in the rst wave of public service motivation research was
the publication of a scale to measure public service motivation. Measuring Public Ser-
vice Motivation: An Assessment of Construct Reliability and Validity, authored by
Perry, appeared in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory in 1996.
An important outgrowth of the measurement scale was the US Merit Systems Protec-
tion Boards use of a subset of the items from the scale in its 1995 and subsequent sur-
veys of federal employees. This short form of the scale (Naff & Crum, 1999), which
was elded prior to publication of the full scale in 1996, stimulated a relatively large
body of subsequent research (Wright, Christensen, & Pandey, 2013).
Although Rainey (1982) brought explicit attention to the potential importance
of the service ethic, Perry and Wises(1990)denition and Perrys(1996)
subsequent development of a measurement scale gave research on the topic both
concreteness and a means to operationalise the construct. The early research stimu-
lated several important follow-up studies during the 1990s, which represent the tran-
sition from wave one to wave two. Among the 1990s follow-on studies that
generated momentum for subsequent research in wave two are Crewson (1997),
Perry (1997), Brewer and Selden (1998), Naff and Crum (1999) and Rainey and
Steinbauer (1999). These studies represent a bridge from wave one to wave two
which explored the nomological network that accelerated research output signi-
cantly beginning in 2000.
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Wave two: assessing the nomological network, conrming construct validity
and diffusion
Wave one of public service motivation research was associated with a fairly narrow
time frame and set of activities, essentially the period associated with denition of the
construct and development of the initial measurement instrument. Another characteristic
of the rst wave is that it involved a relatively small number of scholars, those who
initiated a line of research on public service motivation. A reasonable question after the
rst wave was: Would others gravitate to this research and could research about public
service motivation be sustained as a result of the evidence produced by a broader array
of scholars? The simple answer to this question was yes. Based on research conducted
from 20002010, wave two can be characterised as exploration, conrmation and inter-
national diffusion.
A nomological network is the set of relationships between a construct, its
antecedents, outcomes and covariates. Simply stated, the predicted network of relation-
ships is a means to assess whether a construct is associated with other key variables in
lawful(the meaning behind the Greek root of nomological) expected ways (Cronbach
& Meehl, 1955). Perrys(1997) study of the antecedents of public service motivation
initiated what has become a substantial body of research intended to esh out the
nomological network for public service motivation. In the 1997 study, Perry
investigated ve sets of correlates of public service motivation: parental socialisation,
religious socialisation, professional identication, political ideology, and individual
demographic characteristics. The clear logic for all of the antecedents except
demographic characteristics is that individuals are socialised by a variety of sources
parents, religious institutions, professional training and politics in ways that affect
values and that, in turn, inuence facets of their public service motivation. The line of
research on antecedents has been a staple of the second wave of public service
motivation research (see, e.g., Bright, 2005; Camilleri, 2007; DeHart-Davis, Marlowe,
& Pandey, 2006; Houston, 2000; Naff & Crum, 1999; Pandey & Stazyk, 2008; Perry,
Brudney, Coursey, & Littlepage, 2008; Vandenabeele, 2011).
Research on the nomological network encompasses not only research where public
service motivation is the dependent variable, but also where it is an independent vari-
able associated with predicted outcomes. Given Perry and Wises(1990) prediction that
public service motivation would lead individuals to seek membership in government or-
ganisations, a number of scholars have conducted research to look at this hypothesis.
Among them are studies of a representative sample of Americans (Lewis & Frank,
2002), Dutch citizens (Steijn, 2008) and masters degree students at Flemish universi-
ties (Vandenabeele, 2008).
In light of Perry and Wises(1990) prediction that public service motivation would
be positively associated with performance, job and organisational performance have fre-
quently garnered the attention of scholars. Scholars have studied relationships between
public service motivation and both individual performance (see, e.g., Alonso & Lewis,
2001; Bright, 2007; Leisink & Steijn, 2009; Naff & Crum, 1999; Vandenabeele, 2009)
and organisational performance (Brewer & Selden, 2000;Kim,2005; Ritz, 2009). For
the most part, this research has relied on self-reports of performance, but recent studies
have used more advanced methods (Bellé, 2013,2014). A recent meta-analysis of
public service motivation and performance research (Warren & Chen, 2013) concluded
that the relationship is positive, but effect sizes are small.
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Scholars have also investigated public service motivation as a precursor for a
variety of ethical or extra-work behaviours. This research includes an individuals
willingness to blow the whistle (Brewer & Selden, 1998), principled reasoning
(Choi, 2004) and likelihood to volunteer for charity and to donate blood (Houston,
Another line of research associated with assessment of construct validity, which
complements research on public service motivation as dependent and independent vari-
able, involves associations among similar constructs as a means to gauge the distinc-
tiveness of public service motivation. Among the related constructs that have been
included in public service motivation studies are job satisfaction (Bright, 2008; Taylor
& Westover, 2011), organisational commitment (Camilleri, 2006; Camilleri & van der
Heijden, 2007; Castaing, 2006) and organisational citizenship behaviour (Christensen &
Whiting, 2009; Kim, 2006; Pandey, Wright, & Moynihan, 2008).
It is difcult to disentangle assessing the nomological network for public service
motivation from conrming the construct. The constructs validity is largely an outcome
of the accumulation of evidence about antecedents, outcomes and distinctiveness from
related constructs. Although assessing a constructs validity is difcult to disentangle
from conrming its existence, the extent to which a construct explicitly is accepted as
valid by a scholarly community can be observed. As a result of extensive assessments
of the nomological network, it is reasonable to conclude that public service motivation
has passed the construct validity test. In addition to evidence garnered from research,
scholarsuse of the construct over an extended period the constructs diffusion is a
good indicator of the constructs validity.
Formal study of public service motivation has now been undertaken by scholars in
dozens of countries around the world. Based on formal and informal tracking of research
and correspondence with investigators in different parts of the world, a research bibliog-
raphy has been developed that includes more than 300 entries of articles, conference
papers, books, book chapters and dissertations (
Relying on the bibliography as the information source, there are at least 26 countries in
which original survey data about public service motivation have been collected.
Although the languages into which all or part of the original public service motivation
scale (Perry, 1996) have been translated are more modest (because it has been used in
several English-speaking countries), all or part of the public service motivation scale has
been translated into the languages of the non-English-speaking countries in which it has
been used. Based on a systematic research synthesis of 183 studies published between
1990 and 2012, Ritz, Brewer, and Neumann (2013) estimate that 43 countries have been
included in research on public service motivation. Thus, research about public service
motivation has diffused widely.
The Asia Pacic region is well represented in the research to date. Original
research has been conducted in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea
and Taiwan. In addition, several studies directly address the construct validity of public
service motivation scales in countries in the Asia Pacic region (see, e.g., Kim et al.,
2013; Liu, Tang, & Zhu, 2008).
Foundations for the third wave
The rst two waves of research on public service motivation follow a logical progres-
sion from denition, to measurement, construct assessment, conrmation and diffusion.
The possible course of a third wave of research is not as obvious. The contention here
Asia Pacic Journal of Public Administration 37
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is that a third wave involves learning from past research and lling shortcomings and
gaps. The lions share of a third-wave agenda involves four activities: pursuing more
robust research designs that include eld and laboratory studies; improving measure-
ment to strengthen the construct and increase reliability and validity, particularly in
cross-national studies; conducting more research on multiple incentives; and increasing
efforts to apply theory and research ndings to test the efcacy of strategies using
public service motives.
Pursuing more robust research designs
The case for using more robust designs in public service motivation research was made
persuasively in a 2010 symposium in Public Administration Review. Wright and Grant
(2010, p. 692) discussed a shortcoming of research during wave two, which involved
reliance on cross-sectional survey research in testing the nomological network of
relationships and conrming claims about public service motivations associations with
other variables:
The strength of cross-sectional survey research lies in its ability to test a theorys
predictions in a broad range of populations and settings. Using such designs, current
research has provided considerable evidence that public employees have higher PSM [pub-
lic service motivation] than private sector employees. Our condence in this relationship
has been strengthened by the numerous studies that have replicated these ndings in sam-
ples that vary by occupation, organization, jurisdiction, and nationality The theorys
predictions regarding the differences between private and public sector employees have
also been supported across both attitudinal or behavioral measures of PSM Although
these cross-sectional survey research designs have helped maximize PSMs generalizability,
they have limited internal validity and contextual realism.
What steps can be taken to increase both internal validity and contextual realism
during a third wave of public service motivation research? Wright and Grant (2010)
offer several specic recommendations revolving around improvements of research
designs. Among the range of options they propose are policy-capturing and longitudinal
research designs, eld experiments and quasi-experiments. Recent research has begun
to move in these directions, exemplied by recent experimental studies.
The leading edge of third-wave research is now appearing. A small number of
promising experimental studies have already been published (Bellé, 2013,2014;
Christensen et al., 2013; Moynihan, 2013) and additional experimental studies are in
development or under peer review.
Among the most sophisticated of this new wave of research are Bellés(2013,
2014) randomised eld experiments on nurses in Italian hospitals. Both experiments
used the same interventions: exposure to contact with beneciaries and self-persuasion
interventions. One of the experiments (2013) looked at the relationship between the
two treatments: job performance and public service motivation. Both treatments had
positive effects and baseline public service motivation strengthened the positive effects.
In the second experiment (2014), the performance effects of transformational leadership
and the interaction effects of transformational leadership and each of the treatments
were greater among participants who self-reported higher levels of public service
motivation. Although these experiments only begin to show the promise of new
research designs, they illuminate the prospects for improving internal validity and
contextual realism.
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Improving measurement to strengthen construct reliability and validity
It is striking how long a revised version of the rst public service motivation scale has
been in coming. The scale, which appeared in 1996 (Perry, 1996), has limitations that
have been identied over the course of its use (Kim & Vandenabeele, 2010; Wright,
2008). What is surprising is that the limitations have not spawned more serious attention
to resolving them. This attests to the difculty of scale creation, to the adequacy of the
original scale despite its aws, and to the availability of reasonable substitutes for much
of the research on public service motivation (Wright, Christensen, & Pandey, 2013).
Like the proposal above to pursue more robust research designs, scholars have
already made some progress on this foundation for a third wave of research on public
service motivation. Given that the original public service motivation scale (Perry, 1996)
was developed in an American context, Kim and Vandenabeele (2010) proposed several
changes to better adapt the scale for international use, which had become routine as a
result of the constructs global diffusion. They proposed conceptualising public service
motivation as fundamentally grounded in self-sacrice, which underpins distinct instru-
mental, value-based and identication motives. The goal of this reconceptualisation was
to highlight the centrality of self-sacrice to the construct as a whole and to increase
the distinctness of the component theoretical dimensions. They also proposed changing
the dimension of attraction to policy making to a more general attraction to public par-
ticipation, changing the dimension of commitment to public interest to a broader com-
mitment to public values, and improving the psychometric properties of the compassion
dimension. Changes to the latter two dimensions were viewed as consistent with mak-
ing the scale more suitable for international use.
The changes Kim and Vandenabeele proposed were subsequently executed in a
12-country comparative study (Kim et al., 2013), which included several countries in
the Asia Pacic region. The new scale resulted in four dimensions, consistent with the
original four-dimension construct (Perry,1996). Compassion and self-sacrice were
retained as component dimensions. The attraction to public participation dimension
dened by Kim and Vandenabeele (2010), however, was recongured and named
attraction to public service. The study also sought to distinguish between commitment
to public interests and to public values, but only one dimension commitment to
public values as identied in Kim and Vandenabeele (2010) was sustained by the
conrmatory factor analysis.
The ndings reported in Kim et al. (2013) represent mixed results for those seeking
denitive resolution of questions about reliability and validity of measurement of public
service motivation. Replicating the four-dimensional structure for public service motiva-
tion reinforces ndings over the course of the past two decades. The retention of the
compassion and self-sacrice dimensions also conrms previous results. Other ndings,
however, suggest work remains to be done before the new instrument can condently
be used globally. The most consequential of these other ndings was a lack of metric
and scalar invariance across the 12 countries, suggesting differences in meanings of the
scale across the countries that could emanate from several sources, including culture
and meanings of the dimensions. Results for English-speaking countries converged.
Because the convergence for these countries could be attributed to multiple sources, the
convergence does not provide strong direction for future measurement research.
Aside from the issue of how to attain consensus on a scale suitable for global use,
the attraction to public service dimension that emerges from the Kim et al. (2013) inter-
national scale is not sufciently well grounded theoretically. Its theoretical roots are less
Asia Pacic Journal of Public Administration 39
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compelling than a subscale rooted in loyalty to governance institutions, which was the
logic behind the attraction to public policy making dimension in the original scale
(Perry, 1996; Perry & Wise, 1990). Such an institution-based motive is central to public
service motivation. Although the statistical properties of the attraction to public service
subscale (Kim et al., 2013)framed from items associated with attraction to public
participation and public values associated with public interests meets accepted statisti-
cal standards, a subscale with a compelling theoretical rationale grounded in public
institutions is preferable. The four items associated with the attraction to public service
fall short of this standard.
Research on multiple incentives
An essential next step for research about public service motivation is to conduct more
studies that investigate natural, multi-incentive settings. Table 1provides a typology of
common public sector incentives. Three extrinsic incentives are identied in the table:
total compensation, job security and public service motivation. Total compensation
includes both wages and salaries and deferred compensation in the form of pensions
and related rewards.
Job security is the security of tenure employees are accorded for
their jobs either by policy, contract or law (Hur & Perry, 2012; Perry, 2010). Public ser-
vice motivation encompasses the opportunities employees are accorded to full needs
associated with public institutions and values (Perry, Hondeghem, & Wise, 2010; Perry
& Wise, 1990). Dichotomising each of the three incentives as present at either a high
or lowlevel results in eight different incentive types.
The two extremes in the table, where all three incentives are either present at low
or high levels, are labelled non-incentive and pluralistic full incentive. The two extreme
types of incentives represent ideal types that may rarely be encountered in the real
world, but are probably identiable in limited situations. The non-incentive type was
probably common in many former Soviet republics, for example after the breakup of
the Soviet Union when compensation resources were scarce and no predictable form of
job security or tradition of public service and public values existed. Pluralistic full
incentive situations may be more common than non-incentives, but are relatively infre-
quent. Selected occupational groupings of lower-level unionised employees in the US
or civil servant cadres in small wealthy countries such as Switzerland may enjoy
opportunities associated with pluralistic full incentives.
Table 1. A typology of incentive systems associated with three common public sector incen-
Public service
Non-incentive Low Low Low
Pure total compensation High Low Low
Pure job security Low High Low
Pure public service motivation Low Low High
Public service motivation
High High Low
Job security deprived High Low High
Total compensation deprived Low High High
Pluralistic full incentive High High High
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The table also identies three pure incentive types, which correspond to one of the
three incentives being present at a high level. These incentives types are pure total
compensation,pure job security and pure public service motivation. Pure total compensa-
tion may be indicative of the incentives explicitly associated with the New Public
Management movement (Dunleavy & Hood, 1994; Moynihan, 2008), which emphasises
nancial rewards and de-emphasises job security and public service motivation. Pure job
security is more likely to be found in developing state contexts where scal resources are
tight, where leaders cultivate loyalty through generous grants of job security and where
public service institutions are relatively new and weak. Pure public service motivation
may surface most frequently within quasi-public, non-governmental organisations that
attract employees for a cause, but are unable to provide signicant compensation and job
security because of their limited resources and non-state auspices.
The nal three incentive types use dual incentive structures with only one of the
incentives present to a low degree. These incentive types are named according to the
incentive absent in the mix of three: job security deprived,total compensation deprived
and public service motivation deprived. Settings in which employees lack job security
but receive high total compensation and opportunities for public service may be com-
mon in some industries (e.g. health care) and sectors (e.g. the non-governmental sec-
tor). Incentive structures in government have historically been characterised by the
pattern associated with the total compensation deprived type. The public service moti-
vation deprived pattern may be reective of settings in which employees are repre-
sented by labour unions that are able to use their bargaining power to establish wage
premiums and job security.
Empirical research that looks at multi-incentive settings is relatively rare,
but is
becoming more prominent, in part because of efforts to assess effects of public service
motivation in conjunction with other incentives. Taylor and Taylor (2010), for example,
looked at wages, public service motivation and effort in public sector workforces in 15
They found that some countries paid government employees an efciency
wage (i.e. a wage exceeding market levels), but the practice was not universal, with
countries such as the United States, Denmark, France, Bulgaria and Russia paying less
than an efciency wage. At the same time, public service motivation played promi-
nently in motivating public employees both in countries above and below the ef-
ciency-wage criterion. The study did not incorporate job security as a distinct incentive.
Lee and Choi (in press) conducted a study of South Korean college students
sector choices. Among the variables they included in their binary logit models were
public service motivation, high pay and job security. From among these three variables,
only job security was signicant in a combined model. They offer explanations for
why their ndings may be peculiar to South Korea. One of the reasons fears about
job insecurity (Hur & Perry, 2012)extends back to the 1997 Asian economic crisis,
which lingers in the minds of many South Koreans even today. Although the results of
this study may be peculiar to South Korea, the research reinforces the fact that multi-
incentive research is useful because it gives a more complete picture of the dynamics
that inuence behaviour.
Economists have also begun to study multi-incentive models, in part because of a
controversy about whether there is a trade-off between pecuniary rewards and public
service motivation. Experimental studies have been conducted in two Pacic Rim coun-
tries Mexico and Indonesia. Dal Bó, Finan, and Rossi (2013) studied employee
recruitment that used an experiment conducted as part of an ofcial programme of
Mexicos federal government called the Regional Development Programme (RDP). The
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programme, seeking to strengthen state capabilities, covered 167 of Mexicos most mar-
ginalised municipalities. Different salaries were announced randomly across recruitment
sites and job offers were randomised. They found that higher wages attracted better
candidates (as measured by IQ, personality prole, experience and occupational
background) who were more highly motivated as measured by Perrys(1996) original
40-item scale and a mix of pro-social behaviours. They concluded: We nd no
evidence that higher wages only improve candidate quality at the cost of attracting less
motivated individuals(Dal Bó et al., 2013, p. 1172).
Banuri and Keefer (2013) replicate Dal Bó et al.s(2013) study using a different
subject pool: students in Indonesia. They used dictator games and real effort tasks to
examine the effects of wages on motivation. They found that more pro-social workers
are more likely to exert higher effort in a task that exactly matches the measure of their
pro-sociality. They also found that pro-socially motivated individuals are more likely to
join the public sector when public sector pay is low, but not when it is high. Thus,
their ndings, which sustain a trade-off between wages and motivation, differ substan-
tially from those of Dal Bó et al. Do the different ndings reect contextual differ-
ences, methodological differences or something else? This debate will need to be
resolved by further research that should help drive a better understanding of interac-
tions and trade-offs among the big threeincentives.
More effort to apply research to test efcacy of strategies using public service
Paarlberg, Perry, and Hondeghem (2008) have made an initial attempt to link theory,
empirical research and practice. Efforts to apply theory and research about public ser-
vice motivation dovetail with the strategy of undertaking more eld experiments, which
simultaneously create a prospect for increasing research rigour and the meaningfulness
of research to practitioners. It also helps to ll a knowledge gap. Although evidence
about public service motives and their effects on employee and organisational behav-
iour grows, an understanding of what the research means for management practices is
underdeveloped. How can the positive effects of public service motivations be har-
nessed to enhance employee and organisational performance? The goal of thinking
about, experimenting and learning by doing can bridge the gap between a theoretical
understanding of the motivational potential of public service and an applied understand-
ing of how to manageemployee public service motivations.
Because the volume of relevant research has increased signicantly since 2008, a
great deal might be learnt by revisiting how motivational strategies grounded in public
service can be enacted. Many recent studies have a bearing on developing motivation
strategies (see, e.g., Anderfuhren-Biget, Varone, Giauque, & Ritz, 2010; Bellé, 2013,
2014; Chen, Hsieh, & Chen, in press; Fehrler & Kosfeld, 2012; French & Emerson, in
press; Giauque, Anderfuhren-Biget, & Varone, 2013; Gould-Williams et al., in press;
Jacobsen, Hvitved, & Andersen, in press; Jacobson, 2011; Paarlberg & Lavigna, 2010;
Ritz & Brewer, 2013; Stazyk, 2013; Wright, Moynihan, & Pandey, 2012; Wright,
Christensen, & Isett, 2013). The volume of new research, quality variations and con-
icting results and interpretations owing from such studies means that sorting out
practical implications from the research is a substantial task.
Efforts to apply the research also raise some fundamental issues. One of the core
issues is whether public service motivation is a trait or a state. A trait is a stable character-
istic of an individual that is consistent across situations and over time. A state is a
42 J.L. Perry
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transient characteristic that can change over time. A state may also be variable across situ-
ations. Although many contributors to public service motivation research have viewpoints
on the trait/state debate, their views and assumptions are usually implicit and their validity
is seldom scrutinised. During the third wave of research, the issue of whether public
service motivation is a trait or a state needs to be brought front and centre.
It is fair to infer from the research to date that public service motivation is viewed
as changeable over time. This qualies it as a state rather than a trait. But this either/or
distinction is probably not sufcient for managers and leaders to enact strategies using
public service motivation. Other related questions arise that need answers before it will
be possible condently to apply public service motivation research and theory.
This article illustrates that signicant strides have been made in the understanding of
public service motivation during the last quarter of a century. At the same time, there
are many unanswered questions to which attention should be turned. Pursuit of the
unanswered questions will provide a continuing source of intellectual stimulation. More
importantly, this research holds the prospect of creating knowledge that will enhance
good government, which is the reason most of the research is pursued in the rst place.
1. The immediate trigger for Raineys study was an earlier publicprivate comparative study by
Buchanan (1975), which arrived at conclusions at odds with Raineys view of public service.
2. The four items are: I admire people who initiate or are involved in activities to aid my
community; It is important to contribute to activities that tackle social problems; Meaningful
public service is very important to me; and It is important for me to contribute to the
common good.
3. Combining wages and deferred compensation into a single, total compensation category
helps to simplify the typology. A practice common in government has been to hold current
compensation down and provide more generous deferred compensation. The global move-
ment to control government costs, however, has begun to change compensation practices,
and traditional relationships between current and deferred compensation are evolving.
Whether compensation is accurately represented as a single incentive or is better represented
as multiple incentives is an empirical question. It is important to bear in mind that the total
compensation category is used here to simplify the typology and may need to be disaggregat-
ed based on evidence.
4. No studies have looked simultaneously at the three incentives in Table 1.
5. The 15 countries included in the analysis were the United States, Canada, Great Britain,
Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Russia, Israel, Japan, Taiwan,
Australia and New Zealand.
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... Much of this research confirms that individuals with higher levels of PSM are predisposed toward public serving activities (Bullock et al., 2015;Ritz et al., 2016), that PSM is related in important ways to employee satisfaction (Homberg et al., 2015), and that it has a positive relationship to job performance under certain conditions (Miao et al., 2019;Warren & Chen, 2013). Nonetheless, mixed findings, methodological shortcomings, and assertions regarding a lack of conceptual clarity (Bozeman & Su, 2015;Christensen et al., 2017) suggest the need for continued research (Perry, 2014). ...
... We field the experiment in two distinct subject pools including police and non-police public administrators, but the similarity in responses across these groups allows us to combine the samples. Our effort decidedly fits within the third wave of PSM research (Perry, 2014), including using theory (altruism) and more robust experimental designs to strengthen and test the limits of PSM's efficacy. Our efforts also raise key managerial strategies in terms of job design and sensitivity to work context, or "contextual realism" (Perry, 2014). ...
... Our effort decidedly fits within the third wave of PSM research (Perry, 2014), including using theory (altruism) and more robust experimental designs to strengthen and test the limits of PSM's efficacy. Our efforts also raise key managerial strategies in terms of job design and sensitivity to work context, or "contextual realism" (Perry, 2014). ...
Full-text available
Scholars have demonstrated that public service motivation (PSM) may be conditional and activated in certain contexts or by particular primes. However, to date researchers have focused on the impact of positive experiences or beneficial consequences of public serving activities on employee PSM. Altruism research suggests that PSM may also respond, somewhat counterintuitively, to negative experiences. We test this in an experimental study of 456 public employees in which treatment groups were asked to recall negative or positive interactions with citizens, before responding to questions from a widely used scale of PSM. Results suggest that expressed PSM is sensitive to, and in fact increases, in response to both positive and negative experiential primes. We conclude with a discussion of implications of conditionality for our broader understanding of PSM.
... The motivational bases of public service have become a significant focus of research in public administration (Chen et al., 2013;Perry, 2014). According to Kim (2016), there are three motives bases for public services; rational motives, normbased motives, and affective motives. ...
... Public service motivation is measured through 21 indicators, divided into four dimensions: attraction to public service (APS), commitment to public values (CPV), compassion (CA), and self-sacrifice (SS). Many studies have replicated and validated the four dimensions for decades (Perry, 2014). ...
The Indonesian government conducted bureaucratic reforms to create excellent and clean governance. The reforms need government institutions to utilize the wealth of knowledge they have. However, knowledge is still scattered among institutions employees and not well documented. Thus, it is critical to apply knowledge management, especially to share the knowledge. This study aims to determine the antecedents that influence knowledge-sharing behavior among Indonesian civil servants (Aparatur Sipil Negara, ASN), especially in the finance ministry, which is the scope of this research. This research analyzes the effect of job autonomy on knowledge-sharing behavior. This study also examines the mediating role of public service motivation and intrinsic motivation. We spread the questionnaire across seven echelons III working units in the headquarters of the finance ministry. The researchers limited respondents to work periods of more than one year and collected 252 valid responses. The researchers captured respondents' perceptions of the overall research variables and processed the data using structural equation modeling with AMOS software. The results showed that job autonomy positively affects public service motivation and intrinsic motivation. However, there is not enough evidence to conclude that there is significant knowledge-sharing behavior between ASN evaluated here unless there is a need to provide public service. This finding indicates that Indonesian ASN would not share their knowledge voluntarily. We also found no difference in the behavior between millennial ASN and their senior counterparts. We suggest that the administration design a working procedure with enough autonomy to push the ASN to share their knowledge.
... Recent literature highlights instead its positive effects on organizational performance, attempts to improve measurement techniques and tests efficacy of PSM-based strategies. Importantly, ongoing research results generally appears to confirm the early statements on the PSM association with as crucial behavioural variables as participation in public administration, performance and incentive systems (Perry, 2014;Perry et al., 2010;Perry & Wise, 1990). Table 1 below summarises the Public Service Motivation boundaries (Panel A), motives (Panel B), and the early statements on associations between PSM and behavioural variables (Panel C). ...
... Table 1 below summarises the Public Service Motivation boundaries (Panel A), motives (Panel B), and the early statements on associations between PSM and behavioural variables (Panel C). At present, Public Service Motivation is regarded as a common incentive in the public sector, along with 'Total Compensation', i.e., salary and deferred compensation, and 'Job Security', that is, security of tenure guaranteed by either law, contract or policy (Perry, 2014). ...
Technical Report
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This report is part of the project Institutional bilingualism in the ethnically mixed area of Slovenia, and aims to provide an in-depth evaluation of programmes promoting multilingualism in the public service. To this end, Chapter 1 analyses the functioning of such programmes in several Western countries whose public administrations and socio-economic conditions are closest to those in Slovenia, namely Belgium, Canada and Italy. Chapter 2 presents an up-to-date review of the literature on monetary incentive schemes used in the public sector to improve employee performance. After examining the peculiarities of public employees’ motivation, and their connection to incentive theories, the report highlights the conditions under which the proposed incentive schemes are effective. Finally, Chapter 3 compares existing bilingualism incentive schemes and evaluates them on the basis of the literature on performance-related pay.
... The study of public service motivation (PSM) has come a long way since Perry and Wise's 1990 seminal article on the topic. The first wave of PSM research focuses on concept definition and measurement, while the second wave concentrates on confirming construct validity and spreading the construct internationally (Perry, 2014). Despite substantial progress in research, most measures of the concept are taken from surveys; individuals selfreport their PSM levels via survey items (Ritz et al., 2016). ...
Empirical support for institutional influences on public service motivation (PSM) has been growing in recent years. Yet, we lack a concept and a measure that captures the capacity of public institutions to energize and propel members to perform meaningful public service and pursue the common good. This study aims to address this gap by presenting a conceptual foundation of institutional PSM. By extending PSM from the individual to the institutional level, we lay the groundwork for a fundamentally different approach to PSM measurement. We draw upon multiple theories and empirical studies to propose that institutional PSM consists of four pillars: public-service orientation, legitimacy, merit, and support. We then present research propositions for studying institutional PSM.
... Scholars have employed a variety of approaches to investigate the motivation behind public employees' decision to remain in the public sector, such as reward preference (Crewson, 1997;Davis & West, 1980;Rainey, 1982;Snyder & Osland, 1996;Wittmer, 1991), goal theory (Perry & Porter, 1982;Wright, 2001), need-based theories (Graham & Renwick, 1972;Rhinehart et al., 1969), and public service motivation (Perry, 1996(Perry, , 2000(Perry, , 2014Perry & Wise, 1990;Perry et al., 2010). Most public management scholars concluded that public employees place a higher value on intrinsic motivation and a lesser value on extrinsic motivation (Houston, 2000). ...
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Work motivation in the public service (WMPS) was proposed to address street-level bureaucrats’ work motivation based on the self-determination theory (SDT). Using mixed methods, the present study developed the WMPS scale within a Chinese context. A series of analyses supported the construct validity, reliability, content validity, convergent and discriminant validity, and criterion validity of the WMPS scale. The scale includes 20 scale items in six dimensions: intrinsic motivation, identified regulation, instrumental regulation, introjected regulation, external regulation, and amotivation. Correlation analysis demonstrated that a supportive work climate such as perceived autonomy and relatedness would positively associate with autonomous motivation and negatively associate with controlled motivation and amotivation. Besides, autonomous motivation was positively associated with positive outcomes such as higher job satisfaction and lower turnover intention, while external regulation and amotivation were more likely to relate to negative outcomes (e.g., lower job satisfaction and higher turnover intention). This study contributes to the literature by providing a theory-based measurement instrument for future studies on public employees’ motivation and work-related behavioral outcomes.
Although the term public service motivation (PSM) was coined 30 years ago, its theoretical development is still ongoing. One of these debates examines how to differentiate it from likeminded concepts. Recent theoretical development related to PSM focus on the salience of giving back to society, or non-identified beneficiaries, in contrast to individual users. To assess this distinction, empirical research is essential. Using a between-subjects vignette experiment among a representative sample of 1512 citizens in Catalonia (Spain), we test whether PSM can predict task preferences depending on the extent to which they are oriented to non-identified and identified beneficiaries. This article demonstrates that PSM is mainly oriented to society at large rather than individual users. The findings present evidence to confirm emerging PSM conceptualisations as well as highlight important implications for research and practice – especially with respect to public service job design.
This article disentangles the country-specific institutional system at the macro level from individual-level attraction and socialization in measuring public service-oriented work motives across European countries through public–private sector comparisons. We argue that country-specific institutions shape the level of public service-oriented work motives of each country and thereby generate level differences across countries. In contrast, public–private sector differences, (i.e. gaps), in public service-oriented work motives within a country reflect aspects of individual-level attraction and socialization. We use the 2005 and 2010 waves of the European Working Conditions Survey and demonstrate that the levels and gaps are empirically distinct phenomena, contrary to current treatment in the literature. We conclude that the distinction between levels and gaps can advance understanding of the antecedents of public service-oriented work motives and support the institutional theory of public service-oriented work motives. Points for practitioners This article argues and provides evidence for the fact that levels of work motives oriented towards public service that are visible in a cross-country comparison should not be confused with the gap of such work motives inside one country. This distinction is important because in countries where gaps between the sectors are almost non-existent and levels are generally high, interventions geared towards public service-oriented work motives are less likely to be effective.
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新加坡在經濟發展、社會管理等方面取得的成就被世人稱羨,這包括一流的基礎設施、居者有其屋、安全、律法嚴明,以及良好的營商環境等等。新加坡政府常被引述為高效、清廉和推行善治的典範。這些成就離不開一流的公共服務人才。新加坡政府在公務員選拔和激勵方面建立了一套獨特甚至是相對激進的做法。在人才選拔方面,不同於臺灣或者中國大陸實行的公務員考試制度,新加坡廣泛採用與私營部門類似的招聘程序。為了識別最高質量的人才,政府設立獎學金從高中生群體選拔人才並推薦至世界一流的大學求學並最終為政府所用。在人才激勵方面,政府以國內私營部門高收入者作為參考,為高級公務員提供全世界最高水準的薪資。除此之外,政府重視人才的內在動機和對公共服務價值的認同,以及創造良好的工作條件和工作文化,以確保優秀人才能夠以積極的態度繼續為政府和民眾服務。本文透過對新加坡公共人事實踐的梳理,以期對臺灣以及其他國家有所啟示。 Singapore is admired for its economic growth and social governance, including first-class infrastructure, home ownership, safety, rule of law, and a business-friendly environment. Singapore's government is often cited as a model of efficiency, incorruptibility, and good governance. These achievements are inseparable from first-class public employees. The Singapore government has established a unique and even radical approach for the selection and motivation of public servants. In terms of talent selection, Singapore, unlike Taiwan or mainland China which have a civil service examination system, widely recruit employees using means similar to those used in the private sector. To identify high quality talent, the government sets up scholarships to select students from high school and send them to study at world-renowned universities. These students will join the public service after graduation and become future leaders of Singapore. In terms of how to motivate public employees, the government has provided senior civil servants the highest salaries in the world with reference to the highest earnings of domestic private sector elites. Moreover, the government emphasizes intrinsic motivation and recognition of the core values of public service, as well as the creation of supportive working conditions and working culture. The various types of incentives can ensure that outstanding talents continue to serve the government and the public with positive attitudes. Building on the review of Singapore's public personnel practices, this paper discusses possible implications for other countries.
Staff loss and demotivation can be costly for unions. In this article the authors investigate factors influencing expected voluntary turnover, that is Intention to Leave (ITL), of union employees by conducting an online survey of 160 staff in three Australian unions. Moderated multiple regression analyses revealed that perceived organisational support, shortcomings in training and unmet intrinsic needs predicted ITL, after controlling for burnout, labour market mobility and intrinsic motivations. Critically, the results suggest an interaction effect involving training in some circumstances. Training buffered the impact of low support on ITL, however the adverse effect on ITL of organisational failure to meet staff expectations regarding service to members remained, independent of training. Implications for theory and practice are discussed, including the separate significance of resources and purpose.
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We investigate the interaction of pro-social motivation and wages in pro-social organizations with a novel subject pool, 1700 students destined for the private and public sectors in Indonesia, using a measure of pro-social motivation that exactly matches the mission of the organization. Three novel conclusions emerge. Consistent with a common, but untested, assumption in the theoretical literature, workers with greater pro-social motivation exert higher real effort. However, high pay attracts less pro-socially motivated individuals. Furthermore, we also test whether a real world pro-social organization (the Indonesian Ministry of Finance) attracts pro-socially motivated workers. We find that prospective entrants into the Indonesian Ministry of Finance exhibit higher levels of pro-social motivation than a comparable sample of general workers.
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The growth in international research on public service motivation (PSM) raises a number of important questions about the degree to which the theory and research developed in one country can contribute to our understanding of PSM in other counties. To help address this issue, this study revisits the conceptual and operational definitions of PSM to address weaknesses previously noted in the literature. Although some important steps have been taken to both improve and internationalize the PSM scale, this work has been done incrementally. In contrast, this study takes a more systematic and comprehensive approach by combining the efforts of international PSM scholars to develop and then test a revised measurement instrument for PSM in 12 countries. Although the resulting four dimensional 16-item measure of PSM reported here provides a better theoretical and empirical foundation for the measurement of PSM, our results suggest that the exact meaning and scaling of PSM dimensions are likely to differ across cultures and languages. These results raise serious concerns regarding the ability to develop a single universal scale of PSM, or making direct comparisons of PSM across countries.
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This article analyzes if, and to what extent, the public service motivation (PSM) construct has an added value to explain work motivation in the public sector. In order to address the specificity of PSM when studying work motivation, the theoretical model underlying this empirical study compares PSM with two other explanatory factors: material incentives, such as performance-related pay, and team relations and support, such as recognition by superiors. This theoretical model is then tested with data collected in a national survey of 3,754 civil servants at the Swiss municipal level. Results of a structural equations model clearly show the relevance of PSM. They also provide evidence for the importance of socio-relational motivating factors, whereas material incentives play an anecdotal role.
Is there public-service motivation? In comparison to private employees, are public employees more likely to value extrinsic rewards over intrinsic rewards? Utilizing data from the General Social Survey, public- and private-sector workers are compared with regard to the incentives that they value most highly in a job. This study contributes to the research literature on the difference between public and private employees by providing a multivariate analysis of survey data collected using a national sampling frame. Logistic regression results indicate that public employees are more likely to place a higher value on the intrinsic reward of work that is important and provides a feeling of accomplishment. Additionally, private-sector workers are more likely to place a higher value on such extrinsic reward motivators as high income and short work hours. These findings suggest that public-service motivation does exist. Individuals employed in public organizations value different motives than those employed in private organizations.
Previous studies have produced significant distinctions between public- and private-sector employees with respect to public service motivation (PSM) and PSM-related variables. Little, however, is known about whether those variables are associated with employment choice at a pre-entry level. This article will address this gap in the literature by exploring the effect of PSM on college students’ sector choice in Korea. In previous research on PSM, three types of PSM measures—Perry’s PSM scale, work values, and prosocial behaviors—were utilized as a PSM variable. In exploring the association between PSM and sector choice, we employed the three measures. The empirical model showed that PSM and prosocial behaviors were not associated with public-sector choice. Only job security was found to be a main reason why college students intended to enter the public sector in Korea. We will discuss the implications of our findings in this article.
Numerous research articles have evaluated the reward preference of public sector employees in terms of the public service motivation (PSM) construct. However, very little research has been done on whether differences in reward preferences exist within a particular sector at the local government level. This research aims to fill this gap by reevaluating the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to employees in local government as several changes in workforce composition, economic conditions, performance, and accountability have challenged traditional public management approaches and techniques. A case study comprising survey responses from 272 employees of a local government in Mississippi provides data for the analyses. Results reveal that both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are important to these individuals in their current positions, and these preferences vary due to demographic variables, the employee’s position within the organization, and the individual’s level of PSM.
Scholars have recently begun to investigate job design as one of the contingencies that moderates1 the performance effects of transformational leadership in public sector organizations. Drawing on this stream of research, we used a completely randomized true experimental research design to explore the potential of two extra-task job characteristics - beneficiary contact and self-persuasion interventions - to enhance the effects of transformational leadership on public employee performance. The participants in our field experiment were 138 nurses at a public hospital in Italy. Whereas participants who were exposed to transformational leadership manipulation alone marginally outperformed a control group, the performance effects of transformational leadership were much greater among nurses who were also exposed to either beneficiary contact or self-persuasion interventions. Follower perceptions of pro-social impact partially mediated2 the positive interaction of transformational leadership and each of the two job design features on job performance. Moreover, the performance effects of transformational leadership and the interaction effects of transformational leadership and each of the two job design features were greater among participants who self-reported higher levels of public service motivation. The implications of the experimental findings for public administration research and theory are discussed. © 2013 © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Inc. All rights reserved.
"Construct validation was introduced in order to specify types of research required in developing tests for which the conventional views on validation are inappropriate. Personality tests, and some tests of ability, are interpreted in terms of attributes for which there is no adequate criterion. This paper indicates what sorts of evidence can substantiate such an interpretation, and how such evidence is to be interpreted." 60 references. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
This study examines the relationship between public service motivation and ethical behavior. It scrutinizes the issues of whether those who are highly motivated by public service values act in a morally high way. The results showed that only the variable of self-sacrifice in public service motivation was statistically significant in the post-conventional level of principled reasoning. The association was positive, but commitment to the public interest was not statistically significant in either model. This suggests that self-sacrifice in public service motivation is one of the critical factors that influence the ethical reasoning level of public administrators. Public servants with a higher sense of self-sacrifice employed principled reasoning to resolve ethical quandaries. Education and training of public administrators that focuses on the development of an active attitude in public service motivation can encourage public servants to behave in an ethically high way.