Public Service Motivation: Have financial Incentives Strengthened the Motivation of Mississippians?
Washington, Alexander G.
AdvisorFrench, Edward P.
In a sector that has traditionally relied on intrinsically motivated employees, research has shown that public employees care more about serving society than reaping personal gains. Recently, the public sector implemented extrinsic rewards available to their workforce. Understanding the impact extrinsic rewards has on individuals employed in the public sector should be studied and interpreted before more personal rewards are offered by public institutions. This study examined the public service motivation (PSM) of faculty at Mississippi State University (MSU) hired between October 1, 2007 – October 1, 2016. Quantitative methods were used to analyze differences in PSM among faculty with outstanding student loan debt and those lacking debt. This study used a partial measurement of James Perry’s PSM measureable scale. By measuring self-sacrifice levels, this study determined the levels faculty at MSU are willing to substitute their personal interest for the good of society. Specifically, this study focused on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offered by the U.S. Department of Education. Data were collected through MSU’s class climate electronic survey system. In addition to the 8 items on Perry’s PSM self-sacrifice dimension, closed-ended and multiple choice questions were asked to collect demographic information related to age, household income, student loan debt, and awareness/interest in the PSLF. The results did not reveal any statistically significant difference between faculty with outstanding student loan debt and those without student loan debt. However, the results revealed beneficial information that can be used to understand the motivation of faculty and their desire to reap extrinsic rewards. The majority of respondents indicated that they did not have outstanding student loan debt and the level of interest in PSLF was less than half of the respondents. PSLF was designed to relieve public sector employees of their student loan burdens as well as motivate individuals to seek careers in public service. The literature and data collected in this study suggest that the public sector is still dominated by intrinsically motivated employees. Future research studies should expand this quantitative analysis over various populations of public sector employees and implement the findings into the future practices of public administrations.