On the Nature of Public Service Motivation

  • Fabian Homberg
  • Joyce Costello


The chapter offers a brief introduction to the main theme of the book and provides an outline of subsequent chapters. It briefly introduces the concept of public service motivation (PSM) defined as an other-oriented need to contribute to society and discusses its state- and trait-like nature.


Public Service Motivation Civic engagement State Trait Society 


  1. Asseburg, J., & Homberg, F. (2018). Public service motivation or sector rewards? Two studies on the determinants of sector attraction. Review of Public Personnel Administration. Available online at:
  2. Asseburg, J., Homberg, F., & Vogel, R. (2018). Recruitment messaging, environmental fit and public service motivation: Experimental evidence on intentions to apply for public sector jobs. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 31(6), 689–709.Google Scholar
  3. Bellé, N. (2013). Experimental evidence on the relationship between public service motivation and job performance. Public Administration Review, 73(1), 143–153.Google Scholar
  4. Bottomley, P., Mostafa, A. M. S., Gould-Williams, J. S., & León-Cázares, F. (2016). The impact of transformational leadership on organizational citizenship behaviours: The contingent role of public service motivation. British Journal of Management, 27(2), 390–405.Google Scholar
  5. Bullock, J. B., Stritch, J. M., & Rainey, H. G. (2015). International comparison of public and private employees’ work motives, attitudes, and perceived rewards. Public Administration Review, 75(3), 479–489.Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, J. W. (2018). Felt responsibility for change in public organizations: General and sector-specific paths. Public Management Review, 20(2), 232–253.Google Scholar
  7. Christensen, R. K., Paarlberg, L., & Perry, J. L. (2017). Public service motivation research: Lessons for practice. Public Administration Review, 77(4), 529.Google Scholar
  8. Clerkin, R. M., Paynter, S. R., & Taylor, J. K. (2009). Public service motivation in undergraduate giving and volunteering decisions. American Review of Public Administration, 39(6), 675–698.Google Scholar
  9. Coursey, D., Brudney, J. L., Littlepage, L., & Perry, J. L. (2011). Does public service motivation matter in volunteering domain choices? A test of functional theory. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 31(1), 48–66.Google Scholar
  10. Coursey, D. H., & Pandey, S. K. (2007). Public service motivation measurement – Testing an abridged version of Perry’s proposed scale. Administration & Society, 39(5), 547–568.Google Scholar
  11. Ertas, N. (2014). Public service motivation theory and voluntary organizations: Do government employees volunteer more? Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(2), 254.Google Scholar
  12. Esteve, M., Urbig, D., Van Witteloostuijn, A., & Boyne, G. (2016). Prosocial behavior and public service motivation. Public Administration Review, 76(1), 177–187.Google Scholar
  13. Frey, B. S. (1997). Not just for the money: An economic theory of personal motivation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  14. Frey, B. S., & Jegen, R. (2001). Motivation crowding theory. Journal of Economic Surveys, 15(5), 589–611.Google Scholar
  15. Frey, B. S., Homberg, F., & Osterloh, M. (2013). Organizational control systems and pay-for-performance in the public service. Organization Studies, 34(7), 949–972.Google Scholar
  16. Georgellis, Y., & Tabvuma, V. (2010). Does public service motivation adapt? Kyklos, 63(2), 176–191.Google Scholar
  17. Grant, A. M., & Gino, F. (2010). A little thanks goes a long way: Explaining why gratitude expressions motivate prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(6), 946–955.Google Scholar
  18. Homberg, F., McCarthy, D., & Tabvuma, V. (2015). A meta-analysis of the relationship between public service motivation and job satisfaction. Public Administration Review, 75(5), 711–722.Google Scholar
  19. Homberg, F., Vogel, R., & Weiherl, J. (2017). Public service motivation and continuous organizational change: Taking charge behavior at police services. Public Administration. Available online at:
  20. Houston, D. J. (2008). Behavior in the public square. In J. Perry & A. Hondeghem (Eds.), Motivation in public management: The call of public service (pp. 177–199). Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Huffington Post. (2016). Louisiana’s ‘Cajun Navy’ Is A 100% Volunteer Group That’s Helping Flood Victims (By David Lohr and Kim Bellware). Available online at:
  22. Jacobsen, C. B., Hvitved, J., & Andersen, L. B. (2014). Command and motivation: How the perception of external interventions relates to intrinsic motivation and public service motivation. Public Administration, 92(4), 790–806.Google Scholar
  23. Kjeldsen, A. M., & Jacobsen, C. B. (2012). Public service motivation and employment sector: Attraction or socialization? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 23(4), 899–926.Google Scholar
  24. Oberfield, Z. (2014). Motivation, change, and stability: Findings from an urban police department. The American Review of Public Administration, 44(2), 210–232.Google Scholar
  25. Osterloh, M., & Frey, B. S. (2000). Motivation, knowledge transfer, and organizational forms. Organization Science, 11(5), 538–550.Google Scholar
  26. Perry, J. L., Brudney, J. L., Coursey, D., & Littlepage, L. (2008). What drives morally committed citizens? A study of the antecedents of public service motivation. Public Administration Review, 68(3), 445–458.Google Scholar
  27. Perry, J. L., & Hondeghem, A. (Eds.). (2008). Motivation in public management: The call for public service. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Perry, J. L., & Wise, L. R. (1990). The motivational bases of public service. Public Administration Review, 367–373.Google Scholar
  29. Persson, M., & Solevid, M. (2014). Measuring political participation—Testing social desirability bias in a web-survey experiment. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 26(1), 98–112.Google Scholar
  30. Rainey, H. G., & Steinbauer, P. (1999). Galloping elephants: Developing elements of a theory of effective government organizations. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 9(1), 1–32.Google Scholar
  31. Ritz, A. (2009). Public service motivation and organizational performance in Swiss federal government. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 75(1), 53–78.Google Scholar
  32. Ritz, A., Brewer, G. A., & Neumann, O. (2016). Public service motivation: A systematic literature review and outlook. Public Administration Review, 76(3), 414–426.Google Scholar
  33. Roberts, N. (2004). Public deliberation in an age of direct citizen participation. The American review of public administration, 34(4), 315–353.Google Scholar
  34. Rodell, J. B. (2013). Finding meaning through volunteering: Why do employees volunteer and what does it mean for their jobs? Academy of Management Journal, 56(5), 1274–1294.Google Scholar
  35. Schott, C., Neumann, O., Bärtschi, M., & Ritz, A. (2016, August). Public service motivation, prosocial motivation, prosocial behavior, and altruism: Towards disentanglement and conceptual clarity. In 2016 EGPA Annual Conference, Utrecht, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  36. Taylor, J. (2014). Public service motivation, relational job design, and job satisfaction in local government. Public Administration, 92(4), 902–918.Google Scholar
  37. The Independent. (2016). You can’t just close your eyes’: The British volunteers risking their lives to help refugees cross the Med safely (by Bethan McKernan). Available online at:
  38. Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 29, 271–360.Google Scholar
  39. van Loon, N. M. (2017). Does context matter for the type of performance-related behavior of public service motivated employees? Review of Public Personnel Administration, 37(4), 405.Google Scholar
  40. Vogel, D., & Kroll, A. (2016). The stability and change of PSM-related values across time: Testing theoretical expectations against panel data. International Public Management Journal, 19(1), 53–77.Google Scholar
  41. Waldner, C. (2012). Do public and private recruiters look for different employees? The role of public service motivation. International Journal of Public Administration, 35(1), 70–79.Google Scholar
  42. Warren, D. C., & Chen, L.-T. (2013). The relationship between public service motivation and performance. In E. J. Ringquist (Ed.), Meta-analysis for public management and policy (pp. 442–474). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  43. Wright, B. E., Christensen, R. K., & Pandey, S. K. (2013). Measuring public service motivation: Exploring the equivalence of existing global measures. International Public Management Journal, 16(2), 197–223.Google Scholar
  44. Wright, B. E., & Grant, A. M. (2010). Unanswered questions about public service motivation: Designing research to address key issues of emergence and effects. Public Administration Review, 70(5), 691–700.Google Scholar
  45. Wright, B. E., Hassan, S., & Christensen, R. K. (2017). Job choice and performance: Revisiting core assumptions about public service motivation. International Public Management Journal, 20(1), 108–131.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabian Homberg
    • 1
  • Joyce Costello
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Business & ManagementLUISS Guido Carli UniversityRomeItaly
  2. 2.Media SchoolBournemouth UniversityBournemouthUK

Personalised recommendations