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Putting public service motivation into context: a balance between universalism and particularism

Ritz, A.
Waldner, C.
Published in International Review of Administrative Sciences. 2011, vol. 77, no. 2, p. 227-253
Abstract Research on Public Service Motivation (PSM) has increased enormously in the last 20 years. Besides the analysis of the antecedents of PSM and its impact on organizations and individuals, many open questions about the nature of PSM itself still remain. This article argues that the theoretical construct of PSM should be contextualized by integrating the political and administrative contexts of public servants when investigating their specific attitudes towards working in a public environment. It also challenges the efficacy of the classic four-dimensional structure of PSM when it is applied to a specific context. The findings of a confirmatory factor analysis from a dataset of 3754 employees of 279 Swiss municipalities support the appropriateness of contextualizing parts of the PSM construct. They also support the addition of an extra dimension called, according to previous research, Swiss democratic governance. With regard to our results, there is a need for further PSM research to set a definite measure of PSM, particularly in regard to the international diffusion of empirical research on PSM. Points for practitioners This study shows that public service motivation is a relevant construct for practitioners and may be used to better assess whether public agents are motivated by values or not. Nevertheless, it stresses also that the measurement of PSM must be adapted to the institutional context as well. Public managers interested in understanding better the degree to which their employees are motivated by public values must be aware that the measurement of this PSM construct has to be contextualized. In other words, PSM is also a function of the institutional environment in which organizations operate.
Keywords ContextualizationDemocratic governancePublic service motivationScale analysis
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GIAUQUE, David et al. Putting public service motivation into context: a balance between universalism and particularism. In: International Review of Administrative Sciences, 2011, vol. 77, n° 2, p. 227-253. doi: 10.1177/0020852311399232 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:31092

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Deposited on : 2013-11-18

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