Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen

Management Interventions and Motivation Crowding Effects in Public Service Provision

When public managers want to improve their organization’s performance, they often rely on economic incentives or rule-based command systems to induce employees to exert more effort. This dissertation studies how this aim can be undermined or reinforced through so-called motivation crowding effects. It is demonstrated that public employees are not only motivated by external factors like rewards and sanctions, but typically also by various autonomy-related aspects such as enjoying work (intrinsic motivation) or helping others and society (public service motivation). Motivation crowding effects occur when management interventions affect these types of autonomous motivation in either positive (crowding in) or negative direction (crowding out) depending on how the interventions are perceived as either supportive or controlling. Through empirical analyses drawing on survey and register data from Danish public service provision, the dissertation demonstrates how employee perceptions of interventions as controlling or supportive matter for both motivation and performance in different service areas, and how managers can affect their employees’ perceptions of interventions.

The dissertation offers new insights on the crowding mechanisms of managerial rewards and sanction interventions on different types of autonomous motivation such as intrinsic motivation and public service motivation. The findings are relevant to practitioners because they underline that the employees’ perceptions of an intervention can be more important for its effects than the actual hardness of the intervention. Managers should always bear this in mind when interventions are introduced.

Udgivet juni 2012


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