Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Public Service Motivation and Institutional-Occupational Motivations among Undergraduate Students and ROTC Cadets

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Public Service Motivation and Institutional-Occupational Motivations among Undergraduate Students and ROTC Cadets

Article excerpt


Despite recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military faces future funding cuts. Due to unsustainable budget deficits, President Obama's administration recently proposed significant budget cuts to the Department of Defense (Dreazen, 2012). Budget cuts will likely affect salaries for military personnel and possible reductions in extrinsic motivators might pose barriers to recruitment, performance, and retention of personnel.

This study investigates a potential way to mitigate these looming problems by connecting two streams of research that address the employment motivations of public sector workers. The first body of work is public service motivation (PSM). It has been used to assess the intrinsic motivations of individuals who pursue careers in the public sector. The second body of literature is derived from Moskos' (1977, 1986) Institutional-Occupational (I-O) model. This literature has been used to explore the enlistment and retention motivations of a subset of public workers--military personnel. By joining these previously separate streams of research, it is hoped that dialogue between researchers in these two fields will provide substantive insights on career selection, performance, and the effect of reward systems.

In this article, we first review the development of Moskos' I-O model and PSM. We then test whether there is an overlap between PSM and the Institutional Dimension of Moskos' model. We do so by administering an instrument consisting of PSM (Kim et al., 2012) and I-O questions to undergraduate students and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets at a mid-sized Midwestern university. The ROTC is a program offered at more than 1,000 colleges across the United States that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. military. "In exchange for a paid college education and post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the Military after graduation ... [and] each Service branch has its own take on ROTC" (Today's Military, n.d.). Given the literature on military service and sacrifice, we expect that PSM and Moskos' Institutional motivation to be more highly correlated among ROTC cadets than among other undergraduates. We then perform a logistic regression analysis to test whether we can predict the likelihood of a respondent being an ROTC cadet based on models that include the PSM and I-O factors. Although this is an exploratory research on a complex issue, we believe that the conclusions derived from this study are a first step in providing new insights on creating efficient and effective recruitment mechanisms.

Enlistment and Retention Motivations in the Military

A person's decision to join the military is complex and is commonly motivated by a number of factors (Ginexi, Miller, & Tarver, 1994). The combined influences of "social, personal and organizational factors" affect military enlistment (Mehay, 1990, p. 364). These tangible (extrinsic) and intangible (intrinsic) motivators impact propensity to serve in the military (Griffith, 2008). Tangible motivators include salary, benefits, enlistment bonus, and money for college (Woodruff, Kelty, & Segal, 2006). Intangible motivators include desire for self-improvement, desire to serve others, aspiration to serve one's country, and becoming disciplined and confident (Griffith, 2008; Lawrence & Legree, 1996). Researchers exploring these motivators have often categorized these motives based on Moskos' I-O model (e.g., Griffith, 2008; Woodruff et al., 2006). While the I-O model is organizational in its level of analysis, its insights have been useful in analyzing the diverse individual level motivations about military service. The Institutional military is one in which soldiers serve in response to a call to duty and honor (Moskos, 1977; Woodruff et ah, 2006). In contrast to the Institutional military, Moskos identifies the Occupational military as one in which the free market dominates military service and its members (Moskos, 1977). …

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