For Those Who Care: The Effect of Public Service Motivation on Sector Selection

46 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2016 Last revised: 22 Dec 2016

See all articles by Stephen Holt

Stephen Holt

State University of New York (SUNY) - Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy

Date Written: December 21, 2016

Abstract

Public Service Motivation (PSM) theory suggests the alignment of values may explain sorting into public service work. Evidence suggests that people with high PSM cluster in government and nonprofit organizations. However, the reliance on cross-sectional data leaves open the question of whether observed patterns are the result of public and nonprofit organizations attracting and selecting high PSM people or cultivating PSM through socialization within the sector. Using data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), this study analyzes the relationship between motivational bases, such as PSM and extrinsic motivation, and sorting into the public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors. The results indicate that PSM, measured before labor market entry, significantly predicts the sector a person will select for employment. Moreover, the effect on sector selection does not operate through alternative predictors of sector employment, such as college completion. Rather, PSM predicts sorting into college majors in a manner consistent with sector sorting in the labor market. After empirically investigating the relationship between PSM and sector selection in the labor market, this paper discusses the implications of the results for future public management research and theory.

Keywords: Public Service Motivation, public sector workforce, job choice theory

Suggested Citation

Holt, Stephen, For Those Who Care: The Effect of Public Service Motivation on Sector Selection (December 21, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2882912 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2882912

Stephen Holt (Contact Author)

State University of New York (SUNY) - Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy ( email )

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222
United States

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