Demystifying the components of public service motivation among young public servants in China: A qualitative inquiry

Lei TAO, Bo WEN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While public service motivation (PSM) is universally acknowledged as a value-laden and context-contingent construct, few studies have relied on qualitative methodologies to investigate unique components and dimensions of PSM in a Chinese context. Thus, our knowledge of on-the-job motivation (held by Chinese public employees) and how the cultural and political systems shape these motivations remains limited. This study fills this gap through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 22 junior public servants working at various organisational levels, geographic locations, and functional departments. The findings show that an attachment to the governance regime and predilection towards becoming a politician are two key dimensions that capture the rational motives among Chinese civil servants. In terms of norm-based motives, Confucianism-oriented authoritative values (including government-centric conception, collectivism, obedience, and moral obligations to serve the public) combine to affect the ways in which Chinese nascent public workers interpret the notion of public interests. In addition, love for both the family and nation serves as a core affective factor that contributes towards one’s willingness to seek membership in the public sector. This study ultimately helps construct an all-encompassing yet localised PSM concept, laying the foundation for subsequent quantitative examinations, validations, and replications of PSM-related theories in China. Copyright © 2022 The University of Hong Kong.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-273
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Public Administration
Volume45
Issue number3
Early online dateOct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Citation

Tao, L., & Wen, B. (2023). Demystifying the components of public service motivation among young public servants in China: A qualitative inquiry. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, 45(3), 248-273. https://doi.org/10.1080/23276665.2022.2131587

Keywords

  • Public service motivation (PSM)
  • Components
  • Dimensions
  • Qualitative inquiry
  • China

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