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Pulling the Levers: Transformational Leadership, Public Service Motivation, and Mission Valence


Bradley E. Wright is associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research focuses on how employee attitudes and behavior are infl uenced by the interaction between characteristics of the employee and their organizational work environment.

Donald P. Moynihan is professor of public affairs in the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His research examines the application of organization theory to public management issues such as performance, budgeting, homeland security, election administration, and employee behavior. He is author of The Dynamics of Performance Management: Constructing Information and Reform, which was named best book by the Academy of Management's Public and Nonprofi t Division.

Sanjay K. Pandey is associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. He conducts research on public management and health policy.


This article contributes to our understanding of public service motivation and leadership by investigating ways in which organizational leaders can reinforce and even augment the potential effects of public service motivation on employees’ attraction to the organization’s mission (mission valence). The results contribute to two research questions. First, the findings provide new evidence on the sources of public service motivation. The authors find that transformational leadership is an organizational factor associated with higher public service motivation. Second, the article examines the relationship between transformational leadership and mission valence. The authors find that transformational leadership has an important indirect effect on mission valence through its influence on clarifying organizational goals and fostering public service motivation.