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Leadership and motivation: A qualitative study of transformational leadership and public service motivation

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  • Lotte Bøgh Andersen
  • Bente Bjørnholt, KORA, Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research, Denmark
  • Louise Ladegaard Bro
  • ,
  • Christina Holm-Petersen, KORA, Danish Institute for Local and Regional Government Research, Denmark

Transformational leaders work to clarify a vision, share it with their employees and sustain it in the long run, and this is expected to result in increased employee public service motivation (PSM), that is, orientation towards doing good for others and society. Based on 48 in-depth interviews with 16 childcare leaders and 32 of their employees combined with 16 days of observation in these childcare centers, this article investigates the association between transformational leadership and PSM. When the leaders clarify, share and maintain an organizational vision, their employees are more motivated to do good for society and others, and this motivation tends to be less paternalistic and slightly more society-oriented. This implies that it is relevant to ask not only whether transformational leadership increases PSM, but also how it affects the type of PSM. Points for practitioners: Transformational leadership happens when leaders strive to develop a vision for the organization, share the vision with the employees and sustain the employees’ attention to the vision. Transformational leadership seems to increase PSM and make employees less paternalistic and more focused on contributing to society.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Pages (from-to)675-691
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • public service motivation, transformational leadership

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