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Public service motivation and job performance of public sector employees in the Netherlands

By P.L.M. Leisink and B. Steijn


This article contributes in three ways to our understanding of public service motivation (PSM) and its effects. In the first place, it applies an abridged version of Perry's measurement scale in the Dutch public sector. Although the results of the analysis show that PSM is a valid concept in this context, doubts arise as to whether one should use the same four dimensions as in the USA. Second, the analysis shows that — contrary to expectations — PSM is of equal importance in the segments of the Dutch public sector that were investigated. Third, the effect of PSM on three performance-related behavioural outcome variables (commitment, willingness to exert effort and perceived job performance) is analysed. In addition to PSM, a measurement of PSM fit is included. The hypothesis that PSM fit mediates the relationship between PSM and the outcome variables is rejected. In practice, it appears that both PSM and PSM fit have independent effects on these outcome variables. Points for practitioners Public organizations have to attract people who are motivated to work for the sector. In the Netherlands, the Ministry of the Interior is running a recruitment campaign to achieve this. This article shows the value of this strategy as workers with such a motivation (`public service motivation' or PSM) are more committed to the organization, more willing to exert effort and have a higher perception of their performance. Probably this will reflect in better public service delivery. However, the article also shows that recruiting PSM-oriented workers is not enough. It is also important that workers will be able to really `use' their PSM in their work. If not, they will become frustrated, which in the end will have adverse effects for the quality of public service delivery

Topics: Sociaal-culturele Wetenschappen (SOWE), International (English)
Year: 2009
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