A Theory of Public Service Motivation

Julian Le Grand

in Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780199266999
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600869 | DOI:
A Theory of Public Service Motivation

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Uses the material from the two previous chapters to develop a new theory of public service motivation. The theory allocates a key role to the sacrifice involved in performing altruistic acts, arguing that the degree of sacrifice is positively related to the amount of altruistic acts undertaken (at least up to a point). It relates this to economic and psychological theories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Goes on to discuss some of the theory's implications for policy design, examining, inter alia, principal‐agent theory, incentive contracting, non‐profit organisations and the development of ‘robust’ incentive structures. It also discusses the morality of exploiting people's willingness to undertake altruistic acts.

Keywords: altruism; exploitation; incentive contracting; intrinsic and extrinsic motivation; motivation; non‐profit organisations; principal‐agent theory; robust incentives; sacrifice; self‐interest

Chapter.  9417 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Economics

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