Department of Political Science

Morten Brænder

Soldier motivation – different or similar? A Comparison of Public Service Motivation for Civilians and Military Personnel

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Recent research in military sociology has shown that in addition to their strong peer motivation modern soldiers are oriented toward contributing to society. It has not, however, been tested how soldier motivation differs from the motivation of other citizens in this respect. In this paper, by means of public service motivation, a concept developed within the public administration literature, we compare soldier and civilian motivation. The contribution of this paper is an analysis of whether and how Danish combat soldiers differs from other Danes in regard to public service motivation? Using surveys with similar questions, we find that soldiers are more normatively motivated to contribute to society than other citizens (higher commitment to the public interest), while their affectively based motivation is lower (lower compassion). This points towards a potential problem in regard to the representativity of the military. If soldiers are less empathetic than other citizens, it might amplify differences between armed forces and society, making the individual’s transition from the one to the other even more difficult.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2012
Number of pages27
Publication statusSubmitted - 2012
EventAmerican Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, 2012: Real Utopias - Denver, CO, United States
Duration: 17 Aug 201220 Aug 2012


ConferenceAmerican Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, 2012
CountryUnited States
CityDenver, CO

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