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Playing a role – but which one?

How public service motivation and professionalism affect decision-making in dilemma situations. Individuals who work in the public sector see themselves confronted with conflicting values, contradictory demands, and the need to serve an at times difficult to define ‘public interest’.

Schott, Carina
11 November 2015

This book contributes to our understanding of what drives public service professionals’ decision-making in real-life dilemma situations by looking into the combined effect of public service motivation (PSM) and professionalism. Because there are persistent knowledge gaps about the meaning and behavioural consequences of these concepts when it comes to the context of dilemma situations, this book presents new approaches to the study of PSM and professionalism. Another important contribution of this study is related to the discussion about the stability of PSM. Several hypotheses and propositions are put to the test within a mixed-method research design based on data from research on Dutch veterinary inspectors. The results show that in order to clarify the meaning and behavioural consequences of PSM and professionalism in the context of dilemmas it is useful to combine our understanding of these two concepts with insights from identity theory. Mixed findings regarding the relationship between PSM and professionalism highlight our incomplete conceptual understanding of the topics studied, and call for future research that is sensitive to role perceptions.


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