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Motivating Public Employees

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2019

Marc Esteve
University College London
Christian Schuster
University College London


What motivates public employees to work hard? This Element systematically reviews answers from public administration research. The authors locate this research in a novel two-dimensional typology, which shows that public employees can be motivated for other- and self-interested reasons and extrinsic (motivated by outcomes) and intrinsic (motivated by work itself) reasons. Public administration research sheds significant light on extrinsic motivators: working hard to help society (public service motivation), one's organization (organizational commitment) and oneself (financial incentives). Future research should focus on hitherto understudied motivators: symbolic rewards and intrinsic motivators, such as enjoyable work tasks, warm glow, and relatedness with colleagues. Supplementary material for this Element is available online.
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Online ISBN: 9781108559720
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 30 May 2019

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