Driven to Service: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation for Public and Nonprofit Managers: An Earlier Version of This Manuscript Was Presented at the International Public Service Motivation (IPSM) Research Conference, June 7-9, 2009, Bloomington, Indiana

Article excerpt


In recent years, public service has been broadened to include not only those working directly for government but also other forms of employment serving the community. This has been reflected in the public administration literature through an increased interest in governance rather than government and discussion of complex interrelationships between nonprofits and governments. (1) Increasingly individuals wishing to serve their communities, choose between the public and nonprofit sectors or move between the sectors over the span of their careers. Traditionally, public administration literature has thought of public service in terms of work for or with a governmental agency (2) but more recent literature suggests the transfer of service delivery from the public to the nonprofit and for-profit sectors means those serving the public may be employed in a variety of organizations not traditionally examined in public administration literature. The broadening of the term "public service" has implications for how public and nonprofit managers deliver services and how these two linked sectors create communities.

This research seeks to address the motivational relationships and differences between public and nonprofit sector employees in an effort to explore the similarities and differences between the sectors and aid managers in understanding ways to better motivate employees. It has been well established that individuals choosing to work in the public sector are differently motivated than those working in the for-profit sector. (3) However, little empirical research has examined the motivation of those working in the nonprofit sector or the possibility that they may be similarly motivated to their public sector counterparts. Anecdotal and limited descriptive evidence indicate nonprofit employees are in some ways similar to their public sector counterparts and might be motivated by a sense of duty to their communities and a desire to help others. (4) It is important to examine this possibility and reveal any possible differences in terms of motivation between managers in these two sectors which might help policy makers find more effective means to deliver public services by taking advantage of motivational differences. This research employs data collected as part of the National Administrative Studies Project III (NASP III) to identify the nature of motivation and confirm the differences between motivational constructs and the consequences of motivation between the two sectors. The primary focus of this paper is to expand our understanding of the differences between the public and nonprofit sector workforces in terms of motivation and examine any underlying differences between the two.

A review of public service motivation literature and existing research concerning the motivation of nonprofit sector workers was conducted in three phases. In Phase 1, drawing on organizational behavior (OB) and human resource management (HRM) perspectives, as well as employing two different factor solution analyses, we explore and confirm whether motivational types and constructs of public and nonprofit managers in the workplace are different and distinct. In phase 2, using correlation analysis, we measure the strength and direction of the relationships between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. In Phase 3, on the basis of the results from Phases 1 and 2, we also test for statistically significant differences in motivation types between public and nonprofit managers. Specifically, we investigate whether nonprofit managers are more intrinsically and affectively motivated than those individuals working in public agencies. Finally, theoretical and practical implications for comparative motivation research in the public and nonprofit sectors are discussed.

Conceptualization of Work Motivation in Public and Nonprofit Organizations

Motivation is "an umbrella concept that captures the psychological forces that direct, energize, and maintain action. …


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