The Passion for Public Service: What Attracts People to the Park and Recreation Profession? (Research Update)

By Knapp, Julie; McLean, Daniel | Parks & Recreation, May 2003 | Go to article overview

The Passion for Public Service: What Attracts People to the Park and Recreation Profession? (Research Update)


Knapp, Julie, McLean, Daniel, Parks & Recreation


Exploring what prompts individuals to seek employment within the public parks and recreation field is essential to understanding our profession with respect to public service. Public service represents the act of doing something valuable and worthwhile for society (Brewer & Selden, 1998). Within our field, the benefits movement literature and marketing tools have helped the profession to articulate the value that our programs and services provide to our community leaders and citizens. While this information is essential to strengthen our position within our communities, it's important to explore public service related to what our professionals contribute to recognize their efforts and provide for continued employee motivation. The purpose of this research update is to address the uniqueness of a public-service orientation, and to explore if we, as parks and recreation professionals, have a public-service orientation. In addition, this update will highlight how research on public service can assist parks and recreation organizations with re-energizing and motivating professionals in their organizations.

The assumption that public- and private-sector employees are similar contradicts conventional wisdom in public-administration literature. Rainey (1997) noted that common characteristics of individuals motivated by a public-service orientation place a high value on work that helps others and benefits society as a whole, involves self-sacrifice, and provides a sense of integrity and responsibility. It's generally believed that the public employee is motivated by a sense of service not found among private-sector employees (Gabris & Simo, 1995).

Because public-sector administrators are characterized by an ethic to serve the public, they're motivated by different job characteristics than are private-sector employees (Houston, 2000). Public-service employees can be described as having a reliance on intrinsic motivational rewards over extrinsic motivational rewards (Crewson, 1997). Intrinsic rewards are derived from the satisfaction an individual receives from performing a task. Examples of these are a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of self-worth. In particular, employees in public organizations are seen as being concerned for the community and having a desire to serve the public interest. In contrast, extrinsic rewards are those offered to an employee by someone else. Examples of extrinsic rewards are a pay raise, a promotion, job security, and status and prestige (Houston, 2000).

One of the most important jobs of any manager is to motivate employees within the organization to perform at high levels (Jurkiewicz, Massey, & Brown, 1998). The more accurately park and recreation professionals can answer the question of what motivates their employees, the more effectively they'll maximize productivity and enhance performance.

Serving the Community or Serving for Pay

Research generally supports the view that public-sector employees value the ethic of serving the public and community more than financial rewards (Crewson, 1997; Houston, 2000; Rainey, 1982, Wittmer, 1991). Rainey (1982) studied 275 public- and private-sector employees, and found that the importance of pay was valued less by the public-sector employees, whereas the private-sector employees placed more emphasis on pay. Performing meaningful public service was more important than pay to the public-sector employees.

Using data from the General Social Survey, Crewson (1997) found that public employees rated a feeling of accomplishment and performing work that's helpful to society and to others as more important job characteristics than do private-sector employees. Similarly, in a study that investigated employee reward and motivation preferences, Wittmer (1991) reported that public-sector employees place a higher value on helping others and performing work that's worthwhile to society.

Persons who seek employment within public organizations are different in important respects from those in the private sector (Wittmer, 1991).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Passion for Public Service: What Attracts People to the Park and Recreation Profession? (Research Update)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.