Department of Political Science

Only when the societal impact potential is high? A panel study of the relationship between public service motivation and performance

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch

  • Nina van Loon, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Anne Mette Kjeldsen
  • Lotte Bøgh Andersen
  • Peter Leisink, Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Wouter Vandenabeele, Utrecht School of Governance, Netherlands
Does the performance of public organizations benefit from high public service motivation (PSM) under all circumstances? This article studies whether the societal impact potential (SIP) – the degree to which the job provides opportunities to contribute to society of the job –moderates the relationship between PSM and self-perceived performance, first on the individual level, and second on an organizational level. By shifting to the organizational level we are able to provide a test over time. Using organizational panel data from 2010 and 2012 on approximately 13.000 public employees, we are able to provide robust findings on how the relationship between PSM and individual performance depends on the fit with the institutional context through a high societal impact potential. The results indicate that PSM is positively related to performance when the SIP is high, but that there is a weak (organizational level) or even no relationship (individual level) when SIP is low. This is an important insight for organizations that aim to enhance their performance through PSM as it shows that individual motives only contribute to performance when they are accounted for in the design of the work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2014
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventASPA Conference - Washington DC, United States
Duration: 14 Mar 201418 Mar 2014


ConferenceASPA Conference
CountryUnited States
CityWashington DC

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