Public Service Motivation

The IRSPM SIG Public Service Motivation is a leading forum for junior and senior scholars researching questions on motivation, and attitudes and behaviors of individuals reflecting motivation, found in the public sector and beyond. The SIG curates high-quality research and offers seminars and roundtables 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 related to 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 on public service motivation organized its first panel in 2010 at the IRSPM conference in Bern, Switzerland. Since then the research community has grown and we now regularly commission around 20 papers for each annual IRSPM conference. Besides traditional paper presentations and research discussions, we have hosted roundtable discussions with international scholars and invited keynote addresses by leading scholars. We also organized a Ph.D. workshop in Utrecht in November 2018 with 10 Ph.D. students, which provided an excellent opportunity for these students to build their early-career research skills and networks. Members of our SIG were also involved in the organization of a Public Service Motivation conference in Utrecht/Netherlands and 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 Journal of Public Administration, the International Public Management Journal, and Public Administration. Our SIG Newsletter invites members of our group to upcoming conferences and alerts them on 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, we organize a Blind Spot seminar. There we give them feedback to their 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 on Public Service Motivation. Depending on what you are looking for, we might have different ways to interact with the SIG and its broad research community. First, we have a mailing list and disseminate all SIG related information through that channel. We also provide a forum to announce 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 publicize it. To become a mailing list member, please write an e-mail to Wouter Vandenabeele.

If you plan to present your research to the SIG, we recommend participating in the next IRSPM conference. Do you want to get feedback on a paper and you cannot wait until the next conference, write an e-mail to one of us or participate in a Blind Spots of PSM research seminar. We will review your work or suggest another expert to you who is knowledgeable about the subject matter of your paper.

Contact us:


Gene A. Brewer

The University of Georgia, School of Public and International Affairs, Department of Public Administration and Policy, Athens, GA (USA). Email:

Adrian Ritz

University of Switzerland, KPM Center for Public Management, Bern (Switzerland). Email: 

Wouter Vandenabeele

Utrecht University, Utrecht University School of Governance, Utrecht (The Netherlands). Email: