Individual Conceptions of Public Service Motivation



Many scholars and practitioners of public administration converge on the belief that some individuals are predisposed to perform public service. James L. Perry (1996) recently clarified the public service motivation (PSM) construct and proposed a measurement scale. The present study builds on and extends this important stream of research by examining how individuals view the motives associated with public service. Specifically, we use an intensive research technique called Q-methodology to examine the motives of 69 individuals. We identify four distinct conceptions of PSM: individuals holding these conceptions are referred to as samaritans, communitarians, patriots, and humanitarians. The practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.