Another look at “Does sector matter”
MetadataShow full item record
Research shows that workers in the public sector tend to exhibit lower work motivation compared to workers in the private sector. Theory suggests that observed differences are owing in part to differences in the economic and political environments in the respective sectors. Few studies have explored whether work motivation and related attitudes are fundamentally different in the public and nonprofit sectors. This topic is of especial interest inasmuch as the role of economic incentives seems to differ little between these two sectors. By treating work motivational attitudes as the dependent variable and investigating public-nonprofit comparison via three different approaches – sector affiliation, switching, and moderation, I found that public-nonprofit distinction matters in determining work motivational attitudes in different ways. First, nonprofit managers have more positive work motivational attitudes than public managers do. Their different perceived risk aversion, red tape, and formalization are main sources of this attitudinal gap. Second, statistical results concerning sector switching suggest that public-nonprofit sector switchers (those who have had working experience in the other sector) and non-switchers (those who work only in one sector) are likely to report different levels of work motivational attitudes, and their attitudinal differences should be explained by their different perceived task clarity, risk aversion, red tape, and formalization. Finally, public-nonprofit distinction determines work motivational attitudes indirectly through the moderation effect. That is, different external environments across the public and nonprofit sectors influence one’s need satisfaction and accordingly create two distinctive scenarios of the need-attitude relationships in these two respective sectors. I conclude that work motivation is not fully explained by differences in economic environments and incentives and scholars should continue developing different motivation theories for public and nonprofit managers.