Leadership and public service motivation in U.S. federal agencies

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International Public Management Journal






This analysis of over 6,900 federal employees' responses to the Merit Principles Survey 2000 examines the influences of leadership and motivational variables, and especially public service motivation, on the “outcome” variables job satisfaction, perceived performance, quality of work, and turnover intentions. CFA confirms a factor structure for transformation-oriented leadership (TOL), public service-oriented motivation (PSOM), transaction-oriented leadership (TSOL), and extrinsically oriented motivation (EOM). Multivariate regression analysis shows that TOL and PSOM, as well as interaction effects of TOL-TSOL and TOL-PSOM, have strong relations to the outcome variables. SEM analysis examines direct and indirect effects of the main variables. Overall, the results indicate that TOL and PSOM have more positive relations to the outcome variables than do TSOL and EOM. The combination of high TOL and high PSOM has the strongest positive, and hence desirable, relation with organizational outcomes. Among this very large sample of federal employees, those who perceived their leader as displaying TOL (i.e., leadership that is encouraging, supportive, informative, and that emphasizes high standards) also expressed higher levels of PSOM and higher levels of job satisfaction, perceived performance and work quality, and lower turnover intentions. The SEM analysis further indicates that TOL has these effects by way of empowerment, goal clarification, and PSOM, and is distinct from TSOL (transaction-oriented) leadership, which shows no such relationships.


Civil service; Corporate culture; Employees – Attitudes; Employee-management relations in government; Employee motivation; Job enrichment; Job satisfaction


Human Resources Management | Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration




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