Responsibility Toward Others is Vital in Public and Non- Profit Organizations: Can We Recruit, Hire, and Cultivate It?

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Source Publication

Research Handbook on Motivation in Public Administration

Publication Date



Edmund C. Stazyk and Randall S. Davis


Edward Elgar Publishing


Northampton, Massachusetts



First Page


Last Page



College of Management

Publisher Statement

This cutting-edge Research Handbook brings together international scholars to provide a comprehensive overview of motivation within and beyond the field of public administration. Discussing the implications of contemporary research for theory and practice, it offers suggestions for the development of future research in the field.

Contributions offer cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary insights into the theories that underpin motivation research and how motivation drives decisions across public, nonprofit, and private sector settings, highlighting key sector differences that influence decision-making. Covering a wide range of core motivational topics and subfields relevant to the study of public and nonprofit administration, chapters emphasize the key motivational factors that affect employee recruitment, selection, and retention and how they affect – and are affected by – employee behavior.

Providing a wide-ranging coverage of the field, this Research Handbook is critical reading for scholars, researchers, and upper-level students of public administration and policy. It will also benefit practitioners in public and nonprofit organizations in need of a deeper understanding of the links between motivation and employee behavior. -- publisher


Over the past 40 years, public management scholars have almost exclusively focused on the need for a public service motivation (PSM) as a stimulant of responsibility toward others. However, it is now clear that scholars have uncovered a crowded landscape of "other regarding" concepts that could change how we think about motivation toward others in the delivery of vital public and non-profit services. This landscape includes concepts drawn from community psychology and organizational behavior such as altruism, prosocial motivation, and a sense of community responsibility. Evolving research is showing that these variables have unique utility in public and non-profit settings. Some of the findings involving these additional concepts highlight that PSM may be an important factor in a hiring process, but other constructs may be more theoretically appropriate and useful once one is in a job. Other results show that PSM is uniquely important regardless of the presence of additional constructs within public service settings. Given the continued vigor by which scholars focus attention on PSM, and fervent views of its legitimacy as one of the most prominent concepts in public management, it is important to study and evaluate PSM within the milieu of a broader conceptual and theoretical landscape across related disciplines (i.e., primarily management and the social sciences). This chapter will help us understand the similarities and differences between concepts in a crowded landscape, and will propose ways in which these concepts can help us understand how to hire, train, and cultivate cultures of responsibility toward others. -- publisher