Preferences for Careers in Public Work: Examining the Government-Nonprofit Divide Among Undergraduates Through Public Service Motivation

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43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Public service motivation (PSM) research has demonstrated the association of PSM with interest in government and nonprofit careers. Perry's PSM instrument also sheds light upon a less studied aspect of career interest among college students-the perception that the nonprofit sector, and not government, provides the better outlet for altruistic values. The author argues that given the lack of confidence in government and negative perceptions toward government work, only the attraction to policy making dimension predicts interest in government careers. In contrast, commitment to public interest, compassion, and self-sacrifice should explain student interest in nonprofits as well as teaching-both fields of work students see as more directly helping and serving people. Analyses of data from an Internet-based survey of 529 upper-division students at two upper-Midwest universities confirm this "divide" between the rational and normative/affective dimensions of PSM and suggest that confidence in institutions should be incorporated in PSM research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-437
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The author gratefully acknowledges funding support provided by the University of Minnesota’s Grant-in-Aid Program.

Keywords

  • career interest
  • confidence
  • government
  • nonprofits
  • public service motivation

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