Transformational leadership for public service motivation

Davide de Gennaro (“Parthenope” University of Naples, Naples, Italy)

Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences

ISSN: 1026-4116

Publication date: 4 March 2019



The purpose of this paper is to propose an organizational behavioral perspective that could provide useful analysis tools to understand the behavior of public leaders working in changeable and uncertain contexts (like the Italian one). More specifically, drawing on public administration and organizational behavior literatures, this paper examines whether the lack of continuity and long-term planning is significantly associated to public service motivation for public management.


The main contribution of this study is in taking into account the agency of public managers in reaction to wider changes in their political context. It is a theoretical study that considers sudden changes in government from a behavioral perspective, analyzing an extreme case of political and organizational turnover, namely the Italian context.


Public managers, when faced with constant change, act as transformational leaders and have the objective of leverage on intrinsic motivations in order to make the change accepted and, more so, to make it perceived as an advantage for the administration.


This study is among the first to address the issue of public service motivation and intrinsic motivations in carrying out the own job in the public sphere in a constantly changing scenario. Assuming that motivational incentives for public and private employees are different, namely that the former, in particular, are particularly attracted to motivations related to people and common good, this study investigates how public service motivation should be stimulated and supported in a context of change.



Davide de Gennaro (2019) "Transformational leadership for public service motivation", Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 5-15

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