Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

An Empirical Study of Attitudes toward Recognition among Civilian Municipal Employees in a 'U.S.' City

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

An Empirical Study of Attitudes toward Recognition among Civilian Municipal Employees in a 'U.S.' City

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Civil servants with a motivation to public service fulfill a portion of their personal goals and needs through such service. (Heinrich, 2007) Despite that, the 2003 Report of the National Commission on the Public Service pointed to inadequate incentive programs as a significant cause of poor government employee performance. Recognition offered with little clear linkage to individual performance are less involving than those clearly resulting from performance (e.g., Lawler, 1992) though persons motivated by public-service norms may be less responsive to monetary bonuses than their counterparts outside public service. (Heinrich, 2007)

The economic downturn experienced in 2008 has forced calls for getting more done with fewer people in governmental entities across the US. This raises the issue of how non-financial incentives might lead to greater performance among those individuals. Walker and Boyne (2006) found support for the efficacy of non-financial incentives for improving local performance of government in the United Kingdom. Group incentives encourage information sharing among group members (Libby & Thorne, 2009) and increase productivity in situations positively affected by group interaction. (Che & Yoo 2001; Ravenscroft & Haka 1996) Because the majority of municipal employees are nonmanagerial, group incentives come into play.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND DEVELOPMENT OF HYPOTHESES

This study examines organizational recognition as experienced by a group of civilian employees of a southern U.S. municipality.

Preference for Rewards

Miner (2005) suggests that job satisfaction is an outgrowth of achievement, recognition (verbal), the work itself (challenging), responsibility and advancement (promotion). The individual's basic needs will be satisfied when these are present and positive feelings will accrue as a result. Dissatisfiers or hygiene factors (Herzberg, 2003) can be alleviated only to a point. (Miner, 2005) Research indicates that even in identical situations individuals can choose different reward distribution patterns. (King & Hinson, 1998).

Equity Theory (Adams, 1963) is perhaps most applicable where pay-for-performance is the norm. However, where equality or need-based norms dominate, equity theory is less applicable. (Miner, 2005) In that context, persons approach equity in different ways. (Huseman, Hatfield, & Miles, 1987) The Benevolent is a giver and feels comfortable to outcome-input ratios that are lower than comparison persons. Equity Sensitive persons seek parity with comparison persons. The Entitled prefer outcome-input comparisons greater than those of comparison counterparts. (Miner, 2005) People from different backgrounds and operating in different contexts may develop different norms with regard to the appropriate distribution of rewards. Similarly, persons motivated by public-service norms may be less responsive to monetary bonuses than their counterparts outside public service. (Heinrich, 2007) Based on the above we suggest the following hypothesis:

H1: Type of recognition is positively related to preference for rewards

Source of Recognition

Equity Theory suggests (Adams, 1963) and research confirms (Miner, 2005) that people choose a wide range of comparisons to evaluate the efficacy of rewards received. The source(s) of recognition may be identified and used by municipal employees in this context. Therefore, we posit the hypothesis as follows:

H2: Type of recognition is positively related to the source of recognition.

Attitude Toward Recognition and Reward Preference

Chillemi (2008) contends that group rewards are optimal where individuals care about the well being of coworkers. Drake, Wong, and Salter (2007) have found that feedback and rewards affect feelings of empowerment. They concluded "that techniques that work to increase manager perceptions of empowerment may not work at lower organizational levels and, even if successful, the related increase in employee motivation may not be significant. …

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

Oops!

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.