Volume 44, No. 1 | Values and motivation in the public sector

Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Nicolai Kristensen and Lene Holm Pedersen | Motivation and user capacity: the relation between producers and users of public services

Recent years have witnessed an increase in the number of employee motivation studies, while user capacity has not received the same attention in terms of empirical investigation. This article therefore analyses differences in both motivation and user capacity for four central service areas (day care, schools, hospitals and higher education). We use an established measure of public service motivation (n = 377 individual producers of the mentioned public services) and a newly developed measure of user capacity (n = 1056 users). The results show that day care has the highest user capacity and public service motivation followed by schools, while hospital employees in terms of public service motivation are between school teachers and teachers of higher education. This knowledge brings us one step ahead in terms of identifying service areas where it is especially difficult to ensure effective and efficient service provision because of the combination of low public service motivation and low user capacity.

Mads L.F. Jakobsen and Rune J. Sørensen | Are public employees (becoming) similar to private employees?

Are public employees more motivated by doing good for others and society at large and less motivated by economic gain than private sector employees? And has this motivation among public employees and its difference to private employees changed over time? These questions are examined with survey data from 13 countries in 1989, 1997, and 2005. The main result is that public employees are more motivated by doing good for others and society at large and less motivated by economic gain than private sector employees. On the other hand, this motivation has not changed markedly over time neither among public employees nor in the difference between public and private employees.

Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen | Public service motivation and challenges for public employees: Is public service calling?

The public service motivation (PSM) literature expects employees with public service jobs to have higher levels of PSM. To test this proposition, existing studies have compared public and private employees, but instead this article investigates differences within the public sector. Publicly employed children’s dentists provide a useful case, because municipalities offer different social environments with different needs for public service. It is demonstrated that dentists’ PSM varies with the level of social challenges in the municipalities, but that surprisingly the associations are both positive and negative at the sub-dimensional level of PSM. The interpretation is that public service varies in type, and that different types of public service delivery relate to different types of PSM.

Anne Mette Kjeldsen | Public service motivation and job choice: service production or service regulation?

The public service motivation literature traditionally focuses on individuals’ attraction to public or private sector employment and ignores the character of the services delivered in the two sectors. Using survey data and interviews conducted among Danish social worker students, who have the opportunity to work with production as well as regulation of welfare services in the public and private sectors, this article investigates the relationship between public service motivation and job choice: service production or service regulation. The analysis shows that social worker students motivated by compassion want to work with service production. In contrast, students, who are more instrumentally motivated according to the legal framework of Danish social welfare, want to work with service regulation. These two approaches to social work can serve as points of reference in the recruitment processes of social workers to deliver services with different political goals. 

Peter Thisted Dinesen and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov | Why does trust keep rising?

Contrary to the general trend in most countries, social trust has been rising steadily in Denmark for the past three decades. In this article we attempt to explain this development. The analyses show that the rise in trust can be explained by generational differences, a rise in education and an improvement of the quality of state institutions with a subsequent rise in citizens’ trust in these institutions. The analyses build on data from a number of Danish surveys including a panel survey, which allows for an assessment of issues of causality debated in the literature.

Rasmus Brun Pedersen | From international activism to active internationalism: Developments and trends in Danish foreign policy activism

Danish foreign policy has changed since the end of the cold war. An activist tradition has gradually gained a foothold in Danish foreign policy. The article claims that activism has developed from a balancing multilateralism to a more independent foreign policy guided by liberal values. Value based foreign policy is a new invention, but the defining element in Danish foreign policy activism can be found in an expansive ambition, which aims to expand the action space for Danish foreign policy by transforming the Danish position in the international system. The explanation can be attributed to the introduction of a liberal paradigm rooted in a number of domestic factors.

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