Investigating the Structure and Meaning of Public Service Motivation across Populations: Developing an International Instrument and Addressing Issues of Measurement Invariance

Sangmook Kim, Wouter Vandenabeele, Bradley E. Wright, Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Francesco Paolo Cerase, Robert K. Christensen, Céline Desmarais, Maria Koumenta, Peter Leisink, Bangcheng Liu, Jolanta Palidauskaite, Lene Holm Pedersen, James L. Perry, Adrian Ritz, Jeannette Taylor, Paola De Vivo

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    The growth in international research on public service motivation (PSM) raises a number of important questions about the degree to which the theory and research developed in one country can contribute to our understanding of PSM in other counties. To help address this issue, this study revisits the conceptual and operational definitions of PSM to address weaknesses previously noted in the literature. Although some important steps have been taken to both improve and internationalize the PSM scale, this work has been done incrementally. In contrast, this study takes a more systematic and comprehensive approach by combining the efforts of international PSM scholars to develop and then test a revised measurement instrument for PSM in 12 countries. Although the resulting four dimensional 16-item measure of PSM reported here provides a better theoretical and empirical foundation for the measurement of PSM, our results suggest that the exact meaning and scaling of PSM dimensions are likely to differ across cultures and languages. These results raise serious concerns regarding the ability to develop a single universal scale of PSM, or making direct comparisons of PSM across countries.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)79-102
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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