Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

How Does Employees' Public Service Motivation Get Affected? A Conditional Process Analysis of the Effects of Person-Job Fit and Work Pressure

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

How Does Employees' Public Service Motivation Get Affected? A Conditional Process Analysis of the Effects of Person-Job Fit and Work Pressure

Article excerpt


The empirical scrutiny of antecedents and consequences of public service motivation (PSM) is considered an important area of research in the field of public administration. A large majority of research has treated PSM as an independent variable and demonstrated its effect on different employee outcomes (Bright, 2007, 2008, 2013; Caillier, 2014; Christensen & Wright, 2011; Giauque, Ritz, Varone, & Anderfuhren-Biget, 2012; Kim, 2012; Liu, Tang, & Yang, 2013). The recent trend in public administration research is shifting toward understanding the institutional mechanisms that can shape or reduce individual employees' PSM (Houston, 2011; Vandenabeele, 2011; Vandenabeele, Schuermans, & Loopmans, 2012). According to the institutional theory perspective, PSM is individual-level manifestation of institutional-level values. The conceptualization of PSM incorporates the institutional concerns suggesting that PSM is about "motives grounded primarily or uniquely in public institutions" (Perry & Wise, 1990, p. 368).

Building on the existing literature which documents the outcomes and antecedents of PSM (Houston, 2011; Perry & Vandenabeele, 2008), we contribute to the emerging evidence which highlight the influence of institutional environment as an important antecedent of PSM (Wright & Grant, 2010; Wright, Moynihan, & Pandey, 2012). Our study proposes that employees' PSM is affected by their work experiences, where perceptions of work pressure capture employee's experiences of increased job demands and person-job fit encompasses the perceptions of congruence between individual abilities and job demands. Our model tests the direct effect of person-job fit on PSM and the indirect effect of person-job fit on job satisfaction is proposed through the PSM. The moderating role of perceptions of work pressure is proposed on the direct and indirect effects of person-job fit. Although the preliminary evidence of the role of organizational factors on PSM exists, there remains a need to test the mechanisms through which the organizational factors influence PSM and eventually affect other positive attitudes (Perry, 2000; Moynihan & Pandey, 2007).

Perry (2000) introduced the concept of PSM and developed the theory of PSM encapsulating both organizational and sociohistorical contexts. Moynihan and Pandey (2007) followed the lead and examined the role of organizational factors influencing PSM. They documented that red tape and length of organizational tenure are negatively related to PSM. According to Gulick (1937), Barnard (1938), Selznick (1996), Simon (1953), and Moynihan and Pandey (2007), work environment is important in shaping the behaviors of employees. The role of organizational, structural, and cultural factors in influencing the employees' PSM is well established (Brewer & Ritz, 2013; Vandenabeele, 2008), but little is known about the proximal factors (such as job experiences) that can directly predict PSM. We, in the present study, aim to identify the factors that encapsulate the influences of organizational level influences and how these factors affect PSM. Our choice of variables rests on Perry's process theory of motivation and in particular, person-environment interaction perspective. The following sections of the article explain the theoretical underpinnings of PSM theory and the role of organizational environment in the development of PSM. We analyze our model based on a sample of responses of both public and nonprofit sector employees. Finally, the implications of our findings are discussed.

Organizational Work Environment and PSM

The critique on traditional motivation theory (Perry & Porter, 1982; Shamir, 1991) stresses the role of goal clarity, individual-organization fit and performance measurement, as important areas for motivation in public service organizations. The individualistic bias is predominant in the traditional view of motivation, which is calculative in nature (Romzek, 1990) and discounts the relevance of collective factors in motivation. …

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