Crowding out Intrinsic Motivation in the Public Sector

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 473-493

Posted: 17 May 2010 Last revised: 19 Jan 2012

See all articles by Yannis Georgellis

Yannis Georgellis

University of Kent

Elisabetta Iossa

University of Rome Tor Vergata; IEFE Bocconi University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Vurain Tabvuma

Independent

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Employing intrinsically motivated individuals has been proposed as a means of improving public sector performance. In this article, we investigate whether intrinsic motivation affects the sorting of employees between the private and the public sectors, paying particular attention to whether extrinsic rewards crowd out intrinsic motivation. Using British longitudinal data, we find that individuals are attracted to the public sector by the intrinsic rather than the extrinsic rewards that the sector offers. We also find evidence supporting the intrinsic motivation crowding out hypothesis, in that, higher extrinsic rewards reduce the propensity of intrinsically motivated individuals to accept public sector employment. This is, however, only true for two segments of the UK public sector: the higher education sector and the National Health Service. Although our findings inform the literature on public service motivation, they also pose the question whether lower extrinsic rewards could increase the average quality of job matches in the public sector, thus improving performance without the need for high-powered incentives.

Keywords: Public Service Motivation, Intrinsic Motivation

JEL Classification: D64, D82, J45, Z13

Suggested Citation

Georgellis, Yannis and Iossa, Elisabetta and Tabvuma, Vurain, Crowding out Intrinsic Motivation in the Public Sector (2011). Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 473-493, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1609679

Yannis Georgellis (Contact Author)

University of Kent ( email )

Canterbury, Kent CT2 7PE
United Kingdom

Elisabetta Iossa

University of Rome Tor Vergata ( email )

Via Columbia n.2
Rome, 00133
Italy

IEFE Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, Milan 20136
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Vurain Tabvuma

Independent ( email )

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