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Public leaders’ organizational learning orientations in the wake of a crisis and the role of public service motivation

This study explores public leaders’ organizational learning orientation in the wake of a crisis. More precisely, we study the association between public leaders’ public service motivation and their learning orientation (instrumental versus political).

Author
Wout Broekema, Jan Porth, Trui Steen, René Torenvlied
Date
29 April 2019
Links
Public leaders’ organizational learning orientations in the wake of a crisis and the role of public service motivation

This research addresses the lack of systematic empirical data on crisis-induced learning and provides a first systematic operationalization of this important concept. We analyze survey data collected from 209 Dutch mayors on their learning priorities in responding to a hypothetical crisis situation in their municipality. The mayors’ response patterns reveal (1) “cognitive”, (2) “behavioral”, (3) “accountability”, and (4) “external communication” dimensions of crisis-induced learning.

We find that mayors with a stronger public service motivation put more effort into instrumental learning (dimensions 1 and 2), and surprisingly, also into political learning (dimensions 3 and 4). Mayoral experience in previous crises is positively associated with accountability-related learning after a crisis. However, mayoral tenure is negatively associated with crisis-induced behavioral learning.

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