Documentation Requirements, Intrinsic Motivation, and Worker Absence

Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Nicolai Kristensen, Lene Holm Pedersen

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    Command systems are widely used to monitor public service provision, but little is known about unintended effects on individual workers’ motivation and work effort. Using insights from motivation crowding theory, we estimate a SEM model that captures how Danish childcare assistants and social/healthcare assistants perceive documentation requirements. We analyze how this perception relates to intrinsic motivation measured in a survey and sickness absence as reported in administrative registers, and find that individuals who perceive documentation requirements as controlling have lower intrinsic motivation and higher sickness absence. The association is statistically significant, but very small in substantive terms. The result is nevertheless consistent with the expectation in motivation crowding theory and contributes to the literature by including a new, reliable behavioral variable—sickness absence—and by drawing attention to possible downsides of command-and-control. Even though command systems can also have positive disciplining effects, knowledge about potential drawbacks is important for public managers.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Public Management Journal
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)483-513
    Number of pages31
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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