Title

Three Essays on the Origins and Consequences of Public Services Motives

Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Administration

Advisor(s)

Stuart Bretschneider

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This dissertation consists of three essays that examine the origins and consequences of public service motives.

Essay 1 addresses the origins of public service motives by examining the contri-bution of genetic factors to individual differences in one motive thought to be related to participation and performance in public service - attraction to public policymaking - as well as mediators of genetic effects. In the particular sample of twins examined, approx-imately 31% of the phenotypic variance in attraction to public policymaking could be accounted for by genetic factors, while the remaining 69% of variance could be account-ed for by unshared environmental factors. Furthermore, the results show that approximately 30% of the total effect of genes on attraction to public policymaking is mediated by, or explained by, trait dominance. Results from a supplementary segmenta-tion analysis show that these effects are driven primarily by the males in the sample. For males, roughly 42% of the phenotypic variance in attraction to public policymaking could be accounted for by genetic factors, while genetic factors were statistically indis-tinguishable from zero in females. Furthermore, for males, approximately 43% of the total effect of genes on attraction to public policymaking was mediated by trait domi-nance. Results from a supplementary co-twin fixed effect analysis suggest that education and political ideology are strong environmental predictors of attraction to public policy-making. As a whole, the results suggest that that one type of motive related to participation and performance in public service – attraction to public policymaking – may be trait-like, heritable and explained by trait dominance. They also show that there appears to be sex-related differences in heritability. Finally, the results also suggest that education and political ideology may be causal environmental antecedents of attraction to public policymaking.

Essay 2 addresses the origins of public service motives and reports the results of two studies that examine the intergenerational transmission of public sector employment. The data show that having a parent/head of household who was primarily employed in the public sector throughout their life is associated with an increased likelihood of being employed in the public sector. However, these effects are weak in terms of magnitude and the effect of the father weakens as one ages and is stronger for males compared to females. Having a spouse/partner employed in the public sector is also associated with an increased likelihood of being employed in the public sector. This association is stronger amongst newly married or cohabitating couples, which implies active mate choice rather than solely spousal socialization. The results suggest that public sector employment and, by extension, public service motives may be transmitted from generation to generation. The transmission process may be strengthened by positive assortative mating on public sector employment.

Essay 3 addresses the consequences of public service motives and develops and tests a moderated mediation model of mission matching in which meaningfulness serves as an intervening mechanism that explains the association between mission matching and effort. It also considers how individual differences in prosocial motivation influence the intervening role of meaningfulness. Using a real-effort laboratory experiment with monetary incentives, the essays shows that matched subjects exert more effort than mismatched subjects, that this effect is mediated by increases in meaningfulness, that prosociality moderates the effect of a match on meaningfulness, and that the indirect effect of a match on effort via increases in meaningfulness varies as a function of prosociality. The essay suggests that public service motives matter for how meaningful a work experience is.

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