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COMMITTED TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST? MOTIVATION AND BEHAVIOURAL OUTCOMES AMONG LOCAL COUNCILLORS

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Abstract

While politicians are often seen as being motivated by narrow self-interest, this article offers an alternative view. The relationship between two pro-social dimensions – Commitment to the Public Interest (CPI) and User Orientation (UO) – and behavioural outcomes among local councillors is analyzed. The raison d'être for the local councils is to define the public interest. In line with this, CPI, which is directed towards doing good for the public interest, is associated with working hours and political influence; this is much less so for UO, which is directed towards doing good for individual citizens. Behavioural outcomes are thus greater if there is a fit between the personal motivation and the organizational environment. This has implications for democracy, as a fit could lead to a race to the top. The data are based on a survey of local councillors in Denmark in 2009.

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