Public service motivation
A leading forum for junior and senior scholars researching questions about motivations in the public sector and beyond
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 15 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.
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):
- The nature and concept of public service motivation, also with regard to other types of motivational or behavioral concepts, such as various types of work motivation, prosocial motivation, public sector motivation, etc.
- The relationship between several types of antecedents of public service motivation or other motivation-related concepts at the macro, meso and micro level, as well as the role of various types of contextual variables
- Theoretical reflections and empirical studies about the causes and effects of the so-called ‘dark-sides’ of public service motivation or other types of motivation
- The relationship between public service motivation or other motivational concepts and various outcome variables – at the individual, organizational or country and cultural level – also considering the role of various types of contextual variables
- Assessing the validity of practical application of public service motivation or general motivation oriented HRM strategies, in terms of various types of outcomes such as individual satisfaction and organizational performance.
- Theoretical development and empirical validation of new measurement approaches to public service motivation or other motivation-related concepts, including comparisons of existing scales
- Improving the internal and external validity of research on public service motivation and related concepts in the light of existing research (replication, improved causal inference, …)
- New empirical strategies and methodological approaches to better understand public service motivation and other motivation-related concepts (e.g., experiments, game theory, new analytical techniques, comparative research designs, panel studies, etc.). In these new strategies, we also aim to better understand these methodologies and assess their impact for understanding ‘true knowledge’.
Key readings from the Panel Chairs:
- Brewer, G. A., & Selden, S. C. (1998). Whistle blowers in the federal civil service: New evidence of the public service ethic. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 8(3), 413-440.
- Brewer, G. A., Selden, S. C., & Facer II, R. L. (2000). Individual conceptions of public service motivation. Public Administration Review, 60(3), 254-264.
- Kim, S., et al (2013). Investigating the structure and meaning of public service motivation across populations: Developing an international instrument and addressing issues of measurement invariance. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 23(1), 79-102.
- Ritz, A., Brewer, G. A., & Neumann, O. (2016). Public service motivation: A systematic literature review and outlook. Public Administration Review, 76(3), 414-426.
- Vandenabeele, W. (2007). Toward a public administration theory of public service motivation: An institutional approach. Public Management Review, 9(4), 545-556.
More recent publications:
- Breaugh, J., Alfes, K. and Ritz, A. (2022). Strength in numbers? Understanding the effect of team-level PSM on team effectiveness. International Public Management Journal, 25(1), 65-85.
- Breaugh, J., Ritz, A., & Alfes, K. (2018). Work motivation and public service motivation: disentangling varieties of motivation and job satisfaction. Public Management Review, 20(10), 1423-1443.
- Brewer, G.A. (2019). Public service motivation: Overcoming major obstacles to research progress. In A. Massey (Ed), A research agenda for public administration. Cheltenham and Camberley, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., pp. 202-219.
- Ritz, A., Schott, C., Nitzl, C., & Alfes, K. (2020). Public service motivation and prosocial motivation: two sides of the same coin? Public Management Review, 1-25.
- Schott, C., & Ritz, A. (2018). The dark sides of public service motivation: A multi-level theoretical framework. Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, 1(1), 29-42.
- Ritz, A., Vandenabeele, W. and Vogel, D. 2021. Public service motivation and individual performance. In P. Leisink, L. Andersen, G. A. Brewer, C. Jacobsen, E. Knies, W. Vandenabeele (Eds), Managing for public service performance: How HRM and leadership can make a difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 254-277.
- Ritz, A., Schott, C., Nitzl, C., Alfes, K. (2020). Public service motivation and prosocial motivation: Two sides of the same coin? Public Management Review, 22(7), 974-998.
- Vandenabeele, W., & Jager, S. (2020). Government calling revisited: a survey-experiment on the moderating role of public service motivation on the relationship between values in recruitment messages and employer attractiveness and person-organization fit. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2882.
- Vandenabeele, W., Ritz, A., & Neumann, O. (2018). Public service motivation: State of the art and conceptual cleanup. In The Palgrave handbook of public administration and management in Europe (pp. 261-278). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
- Walker, R. M., Brewer, G. A., Lee, M. J., Petrovsky, N., & Van Witteloostuijn, A. (2019). Best practice recommendations for replicating experiments in public administration. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 29(4), 609-626.
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.