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More than Public Service: A Field Experiment on Job Advertisements and Diversity in the Police
Abstract and Figures
There is a human capital crisis looming in the public sector as fewer and fewer people show interest in government jobs. At the same time, many public sector organizations struggle with increasing the diversity of their workforce. Although many institutional forces contribute to the challenge, part of the solution is in how government recruits. This study presents the results of a field experiment aimed at attracting more and different people to apply to a police force by varying job advertisements in a postcard. The results suggest that focusing on public service motivation (PSM) messages is ineffective at attracting candidates that would not have applied anyway. Rather, messages that focus on the personal benefits of applying to the job-either emphasizing the challenge of the job or the career benefits-are three times as effective at getting individuals to apply as the control, without an observable loss in applicant quality. These messages are particularly effective for people of color and women, thereby supporting a key policy goal of the police to increase diversity of applicants.
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