Study finds public sector workers more pro-socially motivated than their private sector counterparts

Sep 21, 2011

New research has found public sector workers are typically more pro-socially motivated than their private sector counterparts. The University of Bristol study, published today, examined motivational indicators in workers from both sectors across 51 countries.

But there are some nations where the reverse is true and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded study, led by in the University's Centre for Market and Public Organisation, explored whether corruption can explain variation in motivation across countries.

Using World Values Survey (WVS) data from 59,604 people across 51 countries (representing a total population of 4.8 billion1) with a range of income levels, different political regimes and cultures, the researchers compared motivational characteristics between public and private, for-profit sector workers.

In addition to age, education, proportion female, the researchers examined motivational indicators, such as the person's work motivation, their self-perception - based on what things are important to them in life, and their self-reported activity in pro-social organisations including charity and environmental work.

As well as differences in motivation, there is a near-universal tendency for workers to be older, more likely to be female and to be better educated than private for-profit sector workers. People with a higher level of well-being are also more likely to work in the public sector.

One of the authors, Professor Sarah Smith, said: "Our findings suggest that public sector workers tend to be more intrinsically motivated across a wide range of different countries but this is not a universal characteristic. Our research shows that there are certain features of the public sector, such as the level of , that can make it more attractive to pro-socially motivated workers."

Explore further: Understanding the economics of human trafficking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

States adopt anti-snooping laws

Jul 10, 2014

Worried about your boss prying into your personal business, poking around in aspects of your life you'd rather keep between friends and family - even as you share more of it on social media?

Recommended for you

Local education politics 'far from dead'

1 hour ago

Teach for America, known for recruiting teachers, is also setting its sights on capturing school board seats across the nation. Surprisingly, however, political candidates from the program aren't just pushing ...

First grade reading suffers in segregated schools

1 hour ago

A groundbreaking study from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) has found that African-American students in first grade experience smaller gains in reading when they attend segregated schools—but the ...

Why aren't consumers buying remanufactured products?

3 hours ago

Firms looking to increase market share of remanufactured consumer products will have to overcome a big barrier to do so, according to a recent study from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Findings from faculty members ...

Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall

4 hours ago

People learn better and recall more when given the impression that they will soon have to teach newly acquired material to someone else, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Understanding the economics of human trafficking

Jul 28, 2014

Although Europe is one of the strictest regions in the world when it comes to guaranteeing the respect of human rights, the number of people trafficked to or within the EU still amounts to several hundred ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet Sep 21, 2011
Corruption? This would seem to be a more significant factor than intrinsic motivation if it can truly overcome the latter. The questions are (A) how does the level of corruption correlate (positive of negative), and (B) how is 'corruption' measured? Perhaps it is actually the *perception* of corruption that is being measured.
COCO
not rated yet Sep 23, 2011
this is apparent in Kanada where most of us in some way or another works for the state. And they have time - some most of the day to get into trouble or just like me surf the web.