The Influence of Coursework and School-Based Community Service on Developing Public Service Motivation
64 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2016 Last revised: 11 Dec 2016
Date Written: August 2, 2016
Despite the theoretical importance of public service motivation (PSM) for workers’ sector selection, little is known about the malleability and causal determinants of PSM. Formal schooling is one possible determinant of PSM. Using data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), this study analyzes the effects of civics courses and school-based community service in high school on PSM and its component values. A propensity score matching strategy that compares observationally similar individuals who participated in school service activities or took a civics course to those who did not finds that participation in school-based service activities for credit increases students’ reported prosocial values, such as helping others in the community, one underlying component of PSM. However, taking a civics course does not affect PSM or associated values. The results suggest that PSM is malleable and particularly responsive to early service experiences. The values underlying PSM may evolve over time. That is, the development of prosocial values in adolescence may lead to the future development of other values important to PSM.
Keywords: Public Service Motivation, civics education, public management, community service
JEL Classification: I21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation