Public Service Motivation

Purpose and objectives:

The IRSPM SIG Public Service Motivation is a leading forum for junior and senior scholars researching questions about motivations, and attitudes, and behaviors of individuals in the public sector and beyond. The SIG curates high-quality research and offers seminars and round-tables on hot topics that attract international academics. A large network of international scholars has been built during the last 10 years and new researchers are welcome to join. Many research collaborations and co-authorships have developed over this period. Academic dialogues on many topics around Human Resource Management (HRM), leadership research and public service motivation started in the SIG and have grown all over the world since then. We run workshops and seminars that help early-career researchers develop research proposals, projects, papers, and new research collaborations.

Key dialogues:

Most research dialogues in our SIG are about public service motivation. However, our core topic has always been understood in the context of other research streams such as environmental fit, prosocial motivation, leadership studies, decentralization and privatization of public services, public and private values, etc. We are specifically interested in (not exhaustively):

Key readings from the panel chairs:

Seminal publications:

More recent publications:

Key outputs:

The SIG public service motivation has started with a first panel in 2010 at the IRSPM conference in Bern/Switzerland. Since then the community has continually grown and we are regularly discussing around 20 papers at a conference. Besides classical paper presentations and discussion we hosted roundtable discussions with international scholars or invited a keynote presentation by leading scholars. We also organized a Ph.D. workshop in Utrecht in November 2018 with 10 Ph.D. students, which acted as an excellent opportunity for these students to build their early-career research skills. Members of our SIG were also involved in the organization of a Public Service Motivation conference in Utrecht/Netherlands or at the Marriot School of Business at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City. Furthermore, we edited several special issues and symposia in international research outlets such as, for instance, the International Public Management Journal. Our SIG Newsletter invites members of our group on upcoming conferences and workshops or publication opportunities.

Our newest SIG activity is a low-level online discussion forum called “Blind Spots of PSM Research”. Whenever a few scholars, above all young researchers, have a need to present their research, then we organize a Blind Spot seminar. There we give you feedback to your research paper. For applications and more information about upcoming dates, please contact us (see mail-addresses below).

How to join:

Everybody is welcome to join the SIG Public Service Motivation. Depending of what you are looking for we might have different was of interacting with the SIG. First, we have a mailing list and spread all SIG related information through that channel. Perhaps you want to announce some information about an event, an upcoming book, etc. to the members of the SIG. In this case, please write an e-mail to one of us and present your request or idea to us. We will find a way to get it to the people. For becoming a mailing list member, please write an e-mail to Wouter Vandenabeele.

If you plan to present your research to the SIG then we recommend participating at the next IRSPM conference. Do you want to get feedback on a paper and you cannot wait until the next conference, then write an e-mail to one of us or participate in a Blind Spots of PSM research seminar. We review your work or we suggest other person to you who fits better to the theme of your paper.

Contact us:


 Adrian Ritz                                  


Gene A. Brewer

Professor of Public Administration and Policy

School of Public and International Affairs

University of Georgia


Adrian Ritz

Professor of Public Management

KPM Center for Public Management  

University of Bern


Wouter Vandenabeele

Associate Professor of Human Resources Management

Utrecht School of Governance

Utrecht University

The Netherlands