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Public Service Motivation and its Implications for Public Service

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Public service motivation is individuals’ orientation toward delivering services to people with a purpose to do good for others and society. This type of motivation is especially relevant for public servants because it affects behavior and performance in public, nonprofit, and private provision of public services. Research consistently shows that public service motivation increases individual and organizational performance if public service providers agree with the values of the public service organizations in which they work and see the societal impact potential in their jobs. Public service motivation can be cultivated by leadership, especially if the general governance context is based on trust. Finally, public service motivation can contribute to attracting and retaining individuals in public service provision, and these individuals are socialized to prioritize doing good for others and society as part of their public service careers. This implies that public service motivation has great potential for contributing to better public service delivery, but the literature suggests that it depends on factors such as governance context. Public service motivation can have dark sides if it adds to the job demands in a context with sparse resources, an aspect that emphasizes the role of leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of the Public Servant : With 75 Figures and 78 Tables
EditorsHelen Sullivan, Helen Dickinson, Hayley Henderson
Number of pages18
Place of publicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication year2021
ISBN (print)978-3-030-29979-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-29980-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Governance, Leadership, Management, Public service motivation, Selection, Socialization

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