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: When identity marketing backfires: Consumers don't like to be told what they like

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Finding the rural allure for creative workers

Jan 24, 2014

Creative workers are more likely to be drawn to live in rural locations offering diverse physical landscapes and high socio-economic and cultural settings, according to new research.

State workers underpaid, new study finds

Mar 12, 2013

A comparison of public sector workers in Illinois with their peers in the private sector shows a general wage and salary penalty for state and local government employees, according to research by a University of Illinois ...

Recommended for you

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

14 hours ago

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

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.

More news stories

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.