The purpose of this paper is to statistically test if the public service motivation (PSM) measure operates in the same way across the public and private sectors of a municipal district in China. It also contrasts the relationship between PSM and workplace outcomes across sectors and employee age groups.
Survey data from independent samples of public (n=220) and private (n=230) sector employees in the Changsha Municipal District of China is used. The analysis tests for invariance across groups, before comparing mean values and regression weights.
Only in respect of one PSM dimension do findings show a significant higher mean in the public sector. No significant difference is found on the impact of PSM on employee performance across sectors, while it is in the private sector that PSM has the greater impact on intention to leave. Findings also show no marked impact of age upon outcomes.
This study provides an initial set of results and further research will need to be undertaken to verify them. The limited sample size and narrow geographical focus, although in line with similar studies on China, means the ability to draw generalisations is limited. The reliance on self-reported measures means issues with common method bias cannot be ignored. Measures were taken during data collection to minimise issues of bias and a set of post-hoc test results are provided.
The recruitment of employees with higher levels of PSM can be expected to play a role in achieving better outcomes, regardless of sector and age profile.
The PSM measure has been applied by researchers across various economic sectors. This paper is one of the first to statistically test if the concept and its measure operates in the same way across sectors. The paper contributes to the on-going debate on PSM in the context of China and its relationship with a number of key output variables. Finally, the paper contributes to the emerging debate on changing workforce demographics and their role in shaping outcomes.
This research was supported by “The Research Fund for International Young Scientists” under the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project Code: 71250110548).
McCarthy, D., Wei, P., Homberg, F. and Tabvuma, V. (2019), "Public service motivation in the Chinese public and private sectors", Evidence-based HRM: a Global Forum for Empirical Scholarship, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/EBHRM-06-2018-0039Download as .RIS
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