Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Motivating the Private vs. Public Sector Managers

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Motivating the Private vs. Public Sector Managers

Article excerpt

The United States seems to be undergoing a painful self appraisal of what has happened to its productivity, efficiency, dedication and effort to sustain itself as the achieving society. Maehr & Braskamp (1986).

The Private sector is facing severe domestic and foreign competition while the public sector is struggling with escalating personnel costs, sluggish productivity, federal budget cuts and declining state revenues. As a result, both sectors must take a closer look at personnel practices and their problems. Lack of a motivated work force is one of the major problems facing the public and private sectors. As Lester Therow, (1983) stated "all that counts is the highly motivated workforce and you'll make it". A motivational solution to the nations in this position is by no means unheard of (Inkeles, 1980; Steer 1981 and Yankelowich 1979).

During the past decade little research has been conducted to investigate the differences between private and public sector managers regarding motivation and job satisfaction (Cacioppe & Mock 1984 and Solomon, 1986) (Kraemer and Perry 1989) indicate that "too little good research" has been conducted on the subject of the needs and attitudes of public managers. And overall "too little attention" has been paid to the management of public sector" (Rainey 1989).

McClelland's (1961) study of managers in the public and private sectors in the U.S., Italy, and Turkey concluded that the public sector managers have a greater need for achievement than their counterparts in the private sector. Guyot (1961) compared middle managers in the federal government and in private industries regarding their need for achievement, affiliation and power. Results of his study also indicated that middle managers employed by federal government had a higher need for achievement than middle managers hired by private industries. The above finding is also supported by Rainey et al. (1976). Buchannan (1979) indicates that in terms of achievement public sector managers may have less chance to directly verify their contributions toward attainment of organizational goals. Hill (1975) mentions that there is a type of personality that is particularly suited to the public sector. Employees are attracted to different organizations in an attempt to fulfill different needs (Lawler 1971).

Several studies (Buchannan, 1974; Buchannan, 1975; Rainey, 1979a, 1979b; Rhinehart, Barrell, DeWolfe, Griffin & Spaner, 1969; Paine, Carrol, & Leete, 1969 and Solomon, 1986) concluded that public sector managers experience significantly lower levels of satisfaction than private sector managers.

Rapp (1978) indicates public employees whose rewards are not contingent upon performance are not motivated to perform at their best. One of the reasons behind Rapp's judgement lies in the research of behaviorism and that found, though controversial, reward contingent upon performance is more effective in a motivating employees to continually perform in a desired fashion. Rewards contingent upon performance has not been widely used by the public sector (Lawler, 1983; Lawler,1966; Lawler 1981; McKersie & Klein, 1984; Schwab 1973; Scott et al. 1988; Hills, 1987; and Milkovich & Newman, 1987).

A recent study conducted by Perry et al. (1989) among public sector managers indicates that application of rewards contingent upon performance has not demonstrably achieved its ultimate objective which is to increase performance. In the private sector actions are rewarded generally based on the degree to which they assist in meeting the highly praised goals of increased efficiency. While, in the public sector, challenging multiple and competing goals might assign a lower priority to policies that reward efficiency and yield more to the whim of political climate (Solomon 1986).

The issue of public pay compatibility has been another major subject in the study of public personnel management (Legge and Ha, 1989). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.