ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (2): 239-254.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00239

• Conceptual Framework •     Next Articles

Public service motivation in the Chinese context: Theory construction and workplace consequences

WEN Bo(), TAO Lei   

  1. City University of Hong Kong - Shenzhen Research Institute, Shenzhen 518000, China
    Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR 999077, China
  • Received:2021-03-05 Online:2022-02-15 Published:2021-12-24
  • Contact: WEN Bo


Crystalizing the consensual notions of public service motivation (PSM) in the Chinese context serves as a requisite condition for China to forge a committed public workforce and improve its public human resource management strategies. Existing research on PSM, albeit copious, overlooks its massive conceptual divergence between Chinese and Western contexts. Moreover, current PSM studies have paid scant attention to the micro-intervention mechanisms of PSM and its negative behavioral impacts. This research hence aims to develop an integrated PSM theory in the Chinese context through investigating its core components, activation mechanism and workplace consequences. Specifically, this study conceptualizes PSM as a mixed-motives construct. By virtue of a grounded theory approach, we will then identify the core components of PSM among front-line employees and subsequently develop a measurement scale fitting the Chinese context. Through the lens of micro-interventions, additionally, this study will examine the effects of beneficiary contacts, self-advocacy, and idea reflections on activating public servants’ PSM. Finally, this study will investigate the mechanisms underlying both desirable and undesirable effects of PSM on public employees. In a nutshell, the furtherance and completion of this study will not only echo an enduring scholarly call for the establishment of localized PSM theories cast against the Chinese background, but also generate ample evidence-based policy implications about the approaches through which the work motivation and job performance of Chinese public employees can be viably augmented.

Key words: Chinese context, public service motivation, conceptualization, measurement scale, workplace consequences

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