Public service motivation in the Volunteer State: An inquiry into the nature and causes of public service motivation among attorneys employed by the state of Tennessee

Mark A Fulks, Tennessee State University

Abstract

Public Service Motivation is a leading issue in public administration literature. This study uses a mixed-methods research design and survey data to evaluate the existence of Public Service Motivation among attorneys employed by the State of Tennessee. The survey was distributed to the entire population of Tennessee-employed attorneys via e-mail and received 264 responses from 631 participants for a response rate of 41.8%. Data was collected using a survey instrument comprised of Perry’s (1996) Public Service Motivation scale, Lewis and Frank’s (2002) employment motivation scale, and six open-ended employment motivation questions developed by the researcher. The researcher analyzed the quantitative data using logistic regression and analyzed the qualitative data using content analysis. The quantitative analysis reveals that Perry’s scale—attraction to policy making, commitment to the public interest, and compassion—is not a good fit for the data. Several of Lewis and Frank’s predictor variables—provide a valuable public service, job security, high income, an interesting job, helping other people, and flexible working hours—are effective predictors. The qualitative analysis reveals that Perry’s scale is not an effective predictor of outcomes in the survey sample, while other motivational factors provide insight, including job characteristics, organizational characteristics, and mission valence. These results demonstrate that, when public sector attorneys in Tennessee are asked to identify their motivation in their own terms, public service motivation is not a significant motivator among the group as a whole. This study contributes to the literature by extending the study of Public Service Motivation to public sector attorneys employed by the State of Tennessee, using a mixed-methods approach, and answering calls for larger sample sizes, primary data, and contextual realism. The results suggest that additional research is needed to determine why Perry’s scale does not fit the data in this particular context.^

Subject Area

Political science|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Mark A Fulks, "Public service motivation in the Volunteer State: An inquiry into the nature and causes of public service motivation among attorneys employed by the state of Tennessee" (2016). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI10243033.
http://digitalscholarship.tnstate.edu/dissertations/AAI10243033

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