Occupational motivation and intergenerational
linkages of rangers in Asia
WILLIAM D. MORETO,JACINTA M. GAU,EUGENE A. PAOLINE III, ROHIT SINGH
MICHAEL BELECKY and B ARNEY LONG
Abstract Examining the human dimensions of conserva-
tion science continues to generate attention, with a move to-
wards an interdisciplinary agenda that incorporates both the
natural and social sciences, and recognition of the import-
ance of understanding human involvement in biodiversity
and ecological matters. However, one line of enquiry has
been largely neglected: the job perceptions of front-line con-
servation area rangers. Examining intrinsic and extrinsic
motivational factors can shed light on job stress and job
satisfaction, recruitment, productivity, and retention and
turnover. Furthermore, little is known about potential inter-
generational linkages within the ranger profession, which is
a significant gap, given the potential role of the family in
pre-employment socialization and career choice. Drawing
from surveys of rangers working in conservation
areas in Asian countries, we found variation amongst in-
trinsically motivated, extrinsically motivated, and mixed-
motivated rangers in terms of a desire to see their children
become rangers. Extrinsically motivated rangers were most
likely to want their children to enter the profession, and
intrinsically motivated rangers expressed significant con-
cern about the inadequacy of the work environment.
Implications for both conservation and criminal justice pol-
icy and research are discussed.
Keywords Asia, extrinsic motivation, human dimension,
interdisciplinary, intergenerational, intrinsic motivation,
protected area management, rangers
There is a considerable body of literature on the impact
of law enforcement efforts to reduce illegal activities,
preserve wildlife abundance, and monitor and manage
conservation areas (Leader-Williams et al., ; Hilborn
et al., ; Critchlow et al., ). Until recently, relatively
little was known about the perceptions and realities of front-
line conservation staff, including rangers (also known as for-
est guards, scouts and game wardens, amongst others). This
is surprising given the central role rangers have in collecting
and documenting data, monitoring, and enforcing laws and
regulations. Moreover, as rangers are often the primary con-
tact for local community members, they are effectively the
personification of conservation efforts. By assessing the per-
ceptions of front-line conservation staff, a better under-
standing of the human dimensions of conservation
science (cf. Jacobson & Duff, ) can be established,
while facilitating and promoting interdisciplinary scholar-
ship (cf. Adams, ; Moreto, ,).
Attention to rangers’perspectives has increased since
the s, particularly among social scientists. Researchers
have investigated variation in selection and training of wild-
life law enforcement personnel (Warchol & Kapla, ),
roles and responsibilities (Shelley & Crow, ; Moreto
& Matusiak, ), perceptions of danger (Forsyth &
Forsyth, ), discretion (Forsyth, ; Carter, ),
job stress and job satisfaction (Eliason, ; Oliver &
Meier, ; Moreto, ; Moreto et al., ), community
relations (Moreto et al., ), and corruption and miscon-
duct (Moreto et al., ). Most of these studies are primarily
descriptive, and all were conducted in the USA or Africa. No
large-scale study has previously been conducted on rangers
working in Asian conservation areas.
Another neglected element is the prevalence and con-
sequences of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation types, and
intergenerational linkages. Broadly defined, intrinsic motiv-
ation refers to ‘doing an activity for its inherent satisfactions
rather than for some separable consequences’(Ryan & Deci,
,p.), whereas extrinsic or instrumental motivation
occurs ‘whenever an activity is done in order to attain
some separable outcome’(Ryan & Deci, ,p.). We
define intergenerational linkages as the connection amongst
and between familial generations. Although research has
shown that parents influence their children’s attitudes, ac-
tivity choices and occupational aspirations (e.g. Eccles
et al., ; Jodl et al., ; Wong & Liu, ), researchers
have not systematically examined intergenerational linkages
within the policing profession, and no studies have previ-
ously assessed this process among rangers. As a dimension
of anticipatory (pre-employment) socialization (Stojkovic
WILLIAM D. MORETO (Corresponding author), JACINTA M. GAU,EUGENE
A. PAOLINE III Department of Criminal Justice, University of Central Florida,
128065 Pegasus Drive, Orlando, Florida 32816-1600, USA
ROHIT SINGH WWF–Tigers Alive Initiative, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
MICHAEL BELECKY WWF–Tigers Alive Initiative, Singapore
BARNEY LONG* WWF–US, Washington, DC, USA
*Currently at: Global Wildlife Conservation, Austin, Texas, USA
Received February . Revision requested April .
Accepted June .
, Page 1 of 10 ©2017 Fauna & Flora International doi:10.1017/S0030605317001041
et al., ), parental guidance, especially with respect to not
endorsing a policing career, could play a major role in the
recruitment of police personnel. Likewise, motivation type
has been studied minimally within the policing literature
(Brough & Frame, ; Abdulla et al., ; Gillet et al.,
) but has not been extended to include rangers.
Here we examine the relationship between motivation
type (intrinsic or extrinsic) and intergenerational job lin-
kages (whether rangers want their children to enter the pro-
fession) among a sample of rangers in Asian conservation
areas. With ., protected areas, covering .% of ter-
restrial and .% of marine and coastal areas, Asia is integral
to global biodiversity (Juffe-Bignoli et al., ). To the best
of our knowledge the current study is the first to assess the
orientations of rangers working in Asia and is one of the
most comprehensive studies conducted on rangers in gen-
eral. We interpret our findings in light of their implications
for improving rangers’job commitment and desire to pass
careers in conservation through the generations. Our re-
commendations will help countries and conservation area
administrators understand what their front-line rangers
need to remain committed to the profession.
Human resource management research has demon-
strated the influence of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors
on staff motivation. For instance, intrinsic and extrinsic mo-
tivation has been examined within the scope of prosocial
motivation and occupational persistence, performance,
productivity, and rewards (Deci et al., ; Grant, ).
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation does not necessarily oper-
ate on a continuum; rather, intrinsic motivation can be in-
fluenced by extrinsic factors, including organizational and
social rewards, and these factors can affect employee job sat-
isfaction and task perception (Mottaz, ; Amabile, ;
Bénabou & Tirole, ). Individual and global factors may
be affected differently by intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
For instance, Huang and Van de Vliert () found that the
relationship between extrinsic job characteristics and job
satisfaction held uniformly across all countries they stud-
ied, but intrinsic job characteristics were associated with job
satisfaction only in developed nations.
The importance of motivation type has been acknowl-
edged within the conservation science and police literatures;
for example, the role of intrinsic and extrinsic factors in al-
tering and guiding conservation behaviours and perceptions
has been discussed and debated (De Young, ,;
Angermeier, ; Sheldon & McGregor, ; Winter,
; Justus et al., ; Vucetich et al., ). Within the
policing literature, research suggests that both intrinsic
and extrinsic motivation are associated with police officers’
job satisfaction (Abdulla et al., ), work engagement
(Gillet et al., ), and willingness to change employer
(Brough & Frame, ; Schyns et al., ,p.).
Nevertheless, much remains to be understood about motiv-
ation type and, especially, how it could relate to the
willingness of employees (in this case, wildlife rangers) to
encourage their children to enter the profession.
Parents play an influential role in their children’s atti-
tudes, beliefs, self-perceptions, interests, and activity choices
(e.g. Eccles Parsons et al., ), including their occupational
aspirations (Bregman & Killen, ; Jodl et al., ;Wong
& Liu, ). Little is known, however, about the interge-
nerational linkages that may exist within the policing profes-
sion, or the factors that may make police officers want (or
not want) their children to also become officers. Police cul-
ture is entwined with the socialization of police officers into
the occupational role (Paoline & Terrill, ); however,
more attention has been focused on proximal forms
(occupation-based) of socialization as opposed to distal
types (personal-based). The few studies that have investi-
gated this link within the policing literature suggest that
having a parent or close relative socialize an individual to
the policing profession appears to play some role in the pre-
professional socialization and recruitment of law enforce-
ment officers (Van Maanen, ; Crank, ). However,
these works have focused on the effects of socialization
from the perspective of children of police officers rather
than the parents’perspective.
In his participant observational study of police pre-
professional socialization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
USA, Conti (,p.) concluded, ‘For any recruit who
is following something akin to a family tradition, those
police relatives are likely to play an active role in his or
her institutionalization. This can include everything from
encouragement to expert advice.’In a survey of
Chinese police cadets, Wu et al. () found that the influ-
ence of parents was among the top motivations (rd out of
choices) to join the police force. Phillips et al. (),
using survey data collected from police recruits in a train-
ing academy in New York, USA, reported that recruits en-
tering their first day in the academy who had relatives in law
enforcement held more favourable orientations toward ag-
gressive patrol tactics and the need to assist citizens, and less
favourable views of supervisor support and citizen cooper-
ation compared to those newcomers who did not have rela-
tives in the occupation. These studies, however, focused on
what may have influenced serving officers, not whether they
themselves would want their children to enter policing.
Our aim here is to examine motivational characteristics
and intergenerational linkages of rangers working in Asian
conservation areas. To the best of our knowledge no previ-
ous research has examined whether intrinsically or extrin-
sically motivated parents differ in their preferences for
their children’s occupational choices.
Firstly, we examine rangers’perceptions of occupational
factors that may motivate or demoralize them. Secondly,
using logistic regression we examine potential intergenera-
tional linkages within the ranger profession by assessing re-
spondents’perceptions of whether they want their children
2 W. D. Moreto et al.
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to also become rangers, and why or why not. Thirdly, we use
tests to analyse more closely how the dimensions of mo-
tivation relate to respondents’stated reasons for not wanting
their children to enter the occupation.
The data analysed are from conservation areas in Asian
countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China,
India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand, and Viet Nam;
Fig. ). Site selection was based on accessibility and contacts
in the field. Twenty-six are sites where WWF actively
supports conservation efforts. These areas were chosen for
ease of access and because surveying could be carried out
during the course of regular operations. In countries and
sites where WWF does not have direct access to front-
line staff, we partnered with other conservation organi-
zations (Wildlife Conservation Society; Karen Wildlife
Conservation Initiative) and ranger associations. This was
useful in obtaining approval from the local governments
and conservation area authorities, while ensuring variation
in the definition of front-line rangers.
Prior to the beginning of the fieldwork, personnel re-
sponsible for data collection met with the research team.
These initial meetings ensured that methods were standar-
dized across the study sites. Administration guidelines were
also included with the survey to remind data collectors and
respondents how to complete and submit the questionnaire.
Data were collected during January–July .
Questions were drafted by WWF in consultation with
subject experts. The final survey instrument contained
questions, most of which had sub-parts, tapping into basic
aspects of the occupation (e.g. working conditions, danger-
ous encounters with poachers or wildlife). To avoid hinder-
ing or obstructing the daily operations of the study sites, we
utilized convenience sampling to access our study partici-
pants. Before completing the survey, respondents were in-
formed of voluntariness and confidentiality, and were
briefed on the purpose of the study and how the data
would be used. The majority (.%) of surveys were admi-
nistered in person and in private. Surveys were administered
by WWF and other partners (mentioned above). Although
the potential for undue influence from the involved organi-
zations is possible, we believe that the respondents’familiar-
ity with data collectors themselves may have alleviated such
concerns. We are confident that data collectors, who were
known by respondents and had first-hand knowledge of
the conservation areas, were more likely to garner trust
and rapport and foster a comfortable and open environment
for respondents compared to an external researcher.
Additional responses were obtained from paper surveys
submitted by mail, and e-mail. In total, we received re-
sponses from study participants. This study was
approved by the University of Central Florida Institutional
Review Board (SBE--).
The dependent variable was the response to the survey
question ‘Would you want your children to become ran-
gers?’This is a dichotomous variable; those who responded
‘yes’were coded as , and those who responded ‘no’were
coded as . Respondents who were not parents could answer
the question hypothetically. The sample was split almost
evenly: % said they wanted their children to become ran-
gers and % said they did not.
The primary predictive construct was respondents’mo-
tivation for being wildlife rangers. To operationalize this, we
used a variable from the survey that offered respondents
nine possible reasons, representing five intrinsic and four
extrinsic values. Respondents ranked the relative import-
ance of each factor compared to the rest. As this variable
was rank ordered, we could not treat it as continuous and
instead had to recode it into categories for analysis. We di-
vided respondents into three groups. Those whose top two
rankings were both intrinsic were categorized as intrinsic-
ally motivated, those whose top two rankings were both ex-
trinsic were categorized as extrinsically motivated, and the
remainder were considered to have mixed motivations.
We chose the top two as the cut-off point for each group
to establish groupings for the extremes while also allowing
for a mixed group.
The multivariate model includes several control variables
derived from the survey. The first three capture rangers’per-
ceptions about facets of their job. Perceived danger is a
summed index of respondents’reports of having been at-
tacked by poachers, threatened by poachers, or threatened
by communities because of their work. We coded responses
to each variable as yes = and no = and then summed
these scores. The dichotomous variable training indicated
whether respondents felt adequately trained for their job
(yes = ), and the dichotomous variable equipment indicated
whether respondents felt they were provided with proper
amenities (e.g. clothes, food, firearms and global positioning
systems) to ensure their health and safety in the field
(yes = ). The remaining controls were for demographic
characteristics. Age and years of experience were both or-
dinal (–), gender was represented as male (male = and
female = ), and employment status was measured as per-
manent () or temporary. Rangers on permanent contracts
are on payroll, have salaries, and are usually eligible for gov-
ernment benefits, whereas temporary rangers are on con-
tract, work for daily wages, and receive few or no
government benefits. The final variables included a series
of dichotomous responses to follow-up questions posed
after the initial question asking respondents whether or
not they wanted their children to be rangers. Respondents
were presented with a series of possible reasons for their de-
cision. We examine respondents’most commonly cited ra-
tionales for wanting, or not wanting, their children to be
Rangers in Asia 3
, Page 3 of 10 ©2017 Fauna & Flora International doi:10.1017/S0030605317001041
rangers, in terms of whether intrinsic or extrinsic considera-
tions appear to factor more prominently in this decision.
We begin by presenting the percentage results of the mo-
tivation items that received the top two and bottom two
rankings. This offers an overview of whether respondents
seemed to be guided primarily by intrinsic motives, extrinsic
ones, or a mixture of the two. We then enter a multivariate
framework. As the dependent variable is binary, we use lo-
gistic regression to examine whether motivation type sig-
nificantly predicts rangers wanting their children to go
into the occupation, net of controls. Finally, we examine a
series of χ
tests to examine in greater detail the relationship
between rangers’motivation and their reasons for wanting
or not wanting their children to become rangers. All ana-
lyses were carried out using SPSS v. (IBM, Armonk,
We first sought to understand aspects of the job that may
contribute positively to rangers’occupational satisfaction,
by analysing the numbers and percentages of respondents
who ranked each of the nine job aspects as their first or se-
cond choices (i.e. the things they liked most about the job)
and as their eighth or ninth choices (i.e. the things they liked
least). Thus, the top rankings indicate the aspects rangers
strongly endorse as reasons for staying in the job, and the
bottom rankings indicate the aspects of the job that are
not as important to them.
The results for the top rankings are in Table . The re-
sponse chosen most frequently as the main motivation to
continue working as a ranger was having no other job op-
tion (.%), followed by good promotion prospects
FIG. 1 The Asian countries (shaded)
included in the study of occupational
motivation and intergenerational linkages
among rangers working in
conservation areas, with the number of
respondents for each country, in
4 W. D. Moreto et al.
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(.%) and liking the power and authority (.%). All top
three responses are extrinsic, suggesting that rangers’
commitment to the job is influenced most strongly by in-
strumental factors within the control of protected area
The bottom-ranked factors are in Table . Enjoying being
close to nature was the least important factor (.%), fol-
lowed by enjoying being a ranger (.%) and having good
promotional prospects (.%). The first two are considered
to be intrinsic motivations, whereas the third is extrinsic.
Good promotion potential was within the top three for
both positive (Table ) and negative (Table ) responses.
We conclude from these results that although intrinsic as-
pects of the job matter, rangers’motivation is driven pri-
marily by extrinsic or instrumental concerns.
Descriptive statistics for the variables used in the logistic
regression to determine whether motivation type signifi-
cantly predicts rangers’desires for their children to enter
this line of work are in Table . There was significant vari-
ation across categorized motivation types, with % of re-
spondents categorized as intrinsically motivated, %
extrinsically motivated, and % of mixed motivation.
For the regression we selected the mixed motivation cat-
egory as the referent, to compare the two more polarized
groups to the middle one. Listwise deletion resulted in a
loss of only % of cases, so imputation was not used. The
results are in Table . The model χ
was statistically signifi-
cant. The percentage of cases correctly categorized increased
from .% in the baseline model to .% in the fully spe-
cified model, a % proportional reduction in error ((.–
.)/.=.). The model, therefore, is modestly useful in
TABLE 1 Aspects of their job that most motivated (extrinsically or intrinsically) rangers from conservation areas in Asian countries
(Fig. ) to continue working as rangers, with the number and percentage of respondents who chose each option.
Response Motivation No. of respondents (% respondents)
I have no other job option Extrinsic 251 (47.4)
I have good promotion prospects Extrinsic 129 (24.3)
I like the power & authority this job gives me Extrinsic 125 (23.6)
I enjoy being close to nature Intrinsic 123 (23.2)
I enjoy being a ranger Intrinsic 92 (17.4)
I like to implement the law Intrinsic 91 (17.2)
I believe it is an exciting job Intrinsic 87 (16.4)
I am a respected member of the community because of this work Extrinsic 86 (16.2)
I am living my dream Intrinsic 76 (14.3)
TABLE 2 Aspects of their job that least motivated (extrinsically or intrinsically) rangers from conservation areas in Asian countries
(Fig. ) to continue working as rangers, with the number and percentage of respondents who chose each option.
Response Motivation No. of respondents (% respondents)
I enjoy being close to nature Intrinsic 250 (47.2)
I enjoy being a ranger Intrinsic 229 (43.2)
I have good promotion prospects Extrinsic 117 (22.1)
I am living my dream Intrinsic 108 (20.4)
I have no other job option Extrinsic 99 (18.7)
I am a respected member of the community because of this work Extrinsic 76 (14.3)
I like to implement the law Intrinsic 65 (12.3)
I believe it is an exciting job Intrinsic 63 (11.9)
I like the power & authority this job gives me Extrinsic 53 (10.0)
TABLE 3 Descriptive statistics of survey participants ( rangers
from conservation areas in Asian countries; Fig. ).
(Mean or median)
Dependent variable: want children to be
0–1 (mean = 0.52)
Intrinsic 0–1 (mean = 0.27)
Extrinsic 0–1 (mean = 0.39)
Mixed 0–1 (mean = 0.35)
Danger 0–3 (mean = 0.80)
Equipment 0–1 (mean = 0.26)
Training 0–1 (mean = 0.52)
Age 1–10 (median = 5.00)
Male 0–1 (mean = 0.97)
Experience 1–10 (median = 2.00)
Permanent 0–1 (mean = 0.64)
Rangers in Asia 5
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explaining respondents’desires for their children to become
rangers. Tests for influential values did not reveal any cases
whose deletion would meaningfully improve model fit.
The regression results show that motivation type, as de-
termined by extrinsic and intrinsic factors, remains signifi-
cant even after controlling for other occupational attitudes
and demographics. Extrinsic motivation in particular is im-
portant: this group had more than double the odds of want-
ing their children to be rangers (odds ratio (OR) = .)
compared to those with mixed motivations. Intrinsically
motivated rangers, likewise, were more likely than their
mixed-motivation counterparts to express a desire to see
their children enter the occupation (OR = .). The
mean predicted probabilities were . for the intrinsic
group, . for the extrinsic group and . for the mixed
Two control variables emerged as statistically significant.
The odds of wishing for one’s children to be rangers was
more than double for those who believed they were ad-
equately equipped for the job compared to those who felt
equipment and food were lacking (OR = .) and for
those with a permanent job status as opposed to temporary
employees (OR = .). These are both consistent with
extrinsic or instrumental concerns, further underscoring
the centrality of the work environment to rangers’job
Next, we examine the specific reasons why rangers do or
do not want their children to enter the occupation (Table ).
The two sections on the survey offered respondents different
sets of options, with the ‘reasons for wanting children to be
rangers’section reflecting both intrinsic and extrinsic ratio-
nales and the ‘reasons for not wanting children to be ran-
gers’options being extrinsic only. We used χ
determine which group comparisons were statistically
Intrinsically motivated rangers endorsed intrinsic rea-
sons for wanting their children to be rangers, such as they
want their children to serve nature (%), protect wildlife
and biodiversity (%), and serve their country (%), and
that they themselves are proud to be rangers (%).
However, the intrinsic group also strongly endorsed a desire
for power and authority (%) and job security (%) at
rates far exceeding the other two groups. Similarly, those
who were intrinsically motivated and did not want their
children to be rangers expressed instrumental concerns, cit-
ing the low salary (%), poor facilities (%), absence of
rewards for hard work (%), and poor promotional oppor-
tunities (%) far more often than the other two groups. It
seems that both intrinsic and extrinsic considerations mat-
ter in determining rangers’intergenerational job commit-
ment. Extrinsically motivated rangers are the ones most
likely to want their children to take on the job, and intrin-
sically motivated ones seem to rely most heavily on extrinsic
or instrumental factors in deciding whether or not they want
their children to join the occupation.
This study contributes to the growing literature examining
the human dimensions of front-line conservation efforts,
while also expanding the policing and human resource lite-
rature. Our findings reveal variation in rangers’motivations
for doing the job, and in the relationship between motiv-
ation and wanting or not wanting their children to become
rangers. This suggests that intergenerational linkages within
the ranger occupation may be influenced by parental beliefs
and perceptions. As a collective, rangers who wanted their
children to become rangers chose intrinsic factors for
their reasoning more so than extrinsic factors. Intrinsically
motivated rangers were particularly enthusiastic about in-
trinsic reasons; however, they were also more likely than
the other two groups to select extrinsic factors as well, and
were considerably more likely to cite extrinsic characteristics
as reasons for not wanting their children to enter the
Our results point to the importance of intrinsic factors in
ranger occupational motivation, and mirror prior research
showing the powerful impact that extrinsic factors have on
intrinsic motivation (Mottaz, ; Amabile, ; Deci
et al., ). In other words, although intrinsic aspects ap-
pear to be important for rangers, extrinsic features of the oc-
cupation also warrant attention (cf. Moreto, ; Moreto
et al., ). Our findings contribute to the ongoing discus-
sion about whether the intrinsic value of nature is sufficient
to guide and justify conservation decision making or
whether instrumental factors are more effective (cf. Justus
et al., ; Vucetich et al., ), particularly given how
such perceptions appear to influence ground-level staff. In
TABLE 4 Logistic regression examining the desire among rangers
(n = )from conservation areas in Asian countries (Fig. )
for their children to become rangers. Mixed motivation is
the referent category. Model χ
is significant (χ
−LL = .; Cox & Snell R
=.; Nagelkerke R
Independent variable b (SE) Wald Odds ratio
Intrinsic 0.584* (0.266) 4.811 1.794
Extrinsic 0.815** (0.232) 12.305 2.258
Danger 0.028 (0.112) 0.063 1.029
Equipment 0.903** (0.254) 12.624 2.468
Training −0.244 (0.222) 1.216 0.783
Age −0.009 (0.062) 0.021 0.991
Male −1.113 (0.695) 2.565 0.329
Experience 0.005 (0.067) 0.006 1.005
Permanent 0.900** (0.218) 17.038 2.460
Constant −0.012 (0.737) 0.000 0.988
*P ,., **P ,.
6 W. D. Moreto et al.
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particular, our findings suggest extrinsic factors consider-
ably influence even those rangers who have vested intrinsic
interests in biodiversity and conservation. It cannot be sim-
ply assumed that front-line conservation personnel will be
intrinsically driven or that such motivation will be unaffect-
ed by the challenges and realities of the occupation. Thus,
understanding how physical, social and work-related con-
straints affect rangers’orientations towards their occupation
and conservation as a whole (cf. Heberlein, ) is a worth-
while endeavour, as this may influence how they perceive
and implement certain conservation initiatives (cf. Moreto
et al., ). Understanding how these factors may influence
employee motivation can also shed light on other important
facets, including organizational commitment (Crewson,
). Moreover, as occupational status (permanent com-
pared to temporary) and perceptions regarding equipment
were also found to be associated with rangers’wanting their
children to also become rangers, it is clear that the charac-
teristics of the job, and not just conservation for its own
sake, influence their outlook.
These findings have implications for governments and
the local administrators of conservation areas seeking to
hire and retain high-quality front-line staff. Governments
and conservation area administrators should staff their ran-
ger ranks with people who possess intrinsic desires to pre-
serve natural habitats and personal commitments to
conservation, but they must also provide those employees
with adequate pay, equipment, and promotional opportun-
ities. In terms of successful recruitment from the families
from which rangers have already been hired, trained and,
possibly, promoted, these would be worthwhile extrinsic in-
vestments. In the absence of instrumental reasons to remain
loyal to the job, intrinsically motivated rangers may serve
out their own careers but persuade their children to seek
employment elsewhere. All of these factors highlight the im-
portance of investigating ranger welfare and working condi-
tions in more detail, and using results from such studies to
influence local budget allocation, along with national and
international policies to address the need to improve the
support provided to rangers. Such investments would be
likely to improve ranger motivation and virtuosity, as well
as bolster the recruitment of the next generation of rangers.
In terms of the general policing literature, further study is
warranted to examine whether our findings may be general-
ized to police officers. This is especially salient, in the USA
for example, given the current reciprocal concerns of dete-
riorated police–community relations (President’s Task
Force on st Century Policing, ). If our findings may
be generalized to local police, upper-level administrators
would be wise to tailor their recruiting and hiring practices
to bring in people with genuine investments in serving the
public, and then provide a work environment that rewards
This study is the first to examine ranger perceptions
across multiple countries in Asia, but it is not without its
limitations. Given the wide variation in the number of re-
spondents per protected area and per country, we were
not able to model protected area or country level
TABLE 5 Percentage of rangers (n = ) from conservation areas in Asian countries (Fig. ) who responded ‘yes’to each reason for
wanting (or not wanting) their children to become rangers.
Total Intrinsic Extrinsic Mixed
Want children to be rangers** 52.1 51.0 61.2 42.9
I want my children to serve nature
*** 61.2 91.8 51.6 48.1
To protect wildlife & biodiversity
*** 59.0 87.7 51.6 44.3
I want my children to serve their country
*** 56.8 78.1 44.4 57.0
I am proud to be a ranger
*** 53.6 78.1 40.5 51.9
There is good job security
*** 31.3 56.2 23.8 20.3
To have power & authority
*** 21.2 58.9 6.3 10.1
It is easy to get a ranger job
8.3 2.7 10.3 10.1
Do not want children to be rangers
47.9 49.0 38.8 57.1
It has a low salary*** 60.3 80.0 47.4 56.7
There is no reward for hard work*** 59.0 64.3 24.4 26.0
It is a dangerous job* 45.2 57.1 44.9 37.5
The facilities are poor*** 41.7 75.7 15.4 38.5
There is no potential for promotion** 39.7 55.7 35.9 31.7
Have to stay apart from family*** 38.5 58.6 25.6 34.6
There is no job security 29.4 25.7 32.1 29.8
The pay is irregular 21.0 20.0 24.4 19.2
All factors are extrinsic
*P ,., **P ,., ***P ,.
Rangers in Asia 7
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characteristics in a multilevel framework. Additionally, the
survey was relatively short and probably omitted variables
and constructs relevant to a full understanding of rangers’
motivations and the factors they like most and least about
the job. The data are also cross-sectional and it is possible
that rangers’perceptions change throughout the course of
their careers. Future research should examine rangers’per-
ceptions at various time periods of their career (e.g. a cohort
model) to gain a more complete understanding of the topic.
Moreover, the sites chosen for this study had financial or
technical assistance from outside bodies (e.g. WWF). As
such, the opinions presented here may not necessarily re-
flect those of rangers working in protected areas without
such assistance. Women constituted a small minority of
the sample (reflecting their extreme under-representation
in the occupation), which precluded an analysis of whether
motivation or desire for children to become rangers varied
according to gender. All of these considerations offer ave-
nues for future research on this topic.
It is possible that various forms of extrinsic motivation
(Gagné & Deci, ) may have different effects on rangers’
intrinsic motivation. Another area of future study could be
the potential applicability of both self-determination and
cognitive evaluation theories (Ryan & Deci, ; Gagné
& Deci, ). According to these theories, both forms of
motivation, particularly intrinsic, are influenced directly
by the surrounding social environment, and different con-
texts will result in different types of motivation. Our find-
ings suggest that this may have been the case for some
rangers in our study. Moreover, future studies should exam-
ine how both proximal (e.g. promotion) and distal (e.g. par-
ental socialization) forms of extrinsic motivation within the
scope of self-determination and cognitive evaluation theor-
ies may influence future rangers. The potential impact of
employment contracts (e.g. permanent vs temporary) on
employee perceptions also warrants further consideration,
specifically how such contracts affect perceptions of person-
al job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and job in-
security (De Witte & Näswall, ; De Cuyper et al., ),
as well as how these attitudes influence whether rangers
actively socialize their children to pursue a career in
Discussion and debate on how best to manage conserva-
tion areas are likely to continue. Questions related to best
practices, capacity building, and ways to engage local com-
munities better will be the focus for many governments,
policymakers, and conservation organizations. Such focus
is undeniably important; however, more attention must be
paid to the experiences, perceptions, motivations, and needs
of those working at the front line of conservation, as these
agents of formal social control are inherently representatives
of conservation policy. Discussion on the increased militar-
ization of conservation (e.g. Duffy, ; Lunstrum, ;
but see also Shaw & Rademeyer, ) has tended to neglect
the experiences, viewpoints, and needs of front-line staff,
and this is a notable omission as simply viewing rangers
as efficient enforcers of the law or as military personnel ra-
ther than as people skews the reality experienced by these
individuals (cf. McGregor, ; Dupré & Day, ).
Better understanding of the experiences and perceptions
of front-line staff will provide a more nuanced appreciation
for the occupation, and insight into ground-level conser-
vation initiatives, from a perspective that has been largely
ignored. Only by incorporating such perspectives will re-
searchers, practitioners, and policymakers be able to fully
understand the human dimensions of conservation science
and therefore be capable of developing the most motivated
and effective ranger force.
WDM and JMG were responsible for conceptual develop-
ment, analysis and writing. EAP was responsible for concep-
tual development and writing. RS, MB and BL were
responsible for development of the survey instrument,
data collection, and writing.
We thank all those involved in facilitating access to each of the
study sites, as well as those responsible for data collection and
collation. We are grateful to the governments of all participat-
ing countries for permission to conduct the study. We express
our gratitude to all our study participants for their involve-
ment. We thank the Editor and the anonymous reviewers
for their constructive feedback and suggestions.
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WILLIAM MORETO is a criminal justice scholar and crime scientist, and
his research interests include wildlife crime, wildlife law enforcement,
and environmental criminology and crime prevention. JACIN TA GAU
is a criminal justice scholarand is interested in police−community rela-
tions, racial issues, and procedural justice and policelegitimacy. EUGENE
PAOLINE is a criminal justice scholar and is interested in the study of
police culture, police use of force, and occupational attitudes of criminal
justice practitioners. ROHIT SINGH is an enforcement and capacity
building specialist and is interested in ranger capacity building and ran-
ger occupational perceptions. MICHAEL BELECKY is a policy manager
and is interested in ranger capacity building and ranger occupational
perceptions. BARNEY LONG is Director of Species Conservation for
Global Wildlife Conservation and is interested in protected area manage-
ment effectiveness and ranger professionalization.
10 W. D. Moreto et al.
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