Drawing on the literature on public service motivation, the authors investigate the relationship between public service motivation and defensive decision-making. Further, the authors explore risk propensity and risk perception as potential antecedents of defensive decision-making.
Based on survey data from 144 German public financial managers of municipalities and federal agencies, the authors find no significant direct relationship between public service motivation and defensive decision-making.
However, the authors can show that risk propensity fully mediates the relationship between public service motivation and defensive decision-making. The findings also indicate that beyond the public service motivation and individual risk propensity of public financial managers, their risk perception does influence their decision making.
The study makes three contributions to the literature. First, the authors contribute to the relatively small amount of research on the risk-taking behaviour of public managers by explaining the indirect impact of PSM on their risk-taking behaviour. Second, this paper furthers the understanding of the influence of risk perception and risk propensity on decision-making and enhances the models of Sitkin and Pablo (1992) and Sitkin and Weingart (1995). Third, the paper also contributes to the call for more international research on German public administrations.
This paper is based on the first author's doctoral thesis, submitted at the Bundeswehr Universität München, Germany. The first author received a scholarship from Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung e.V., which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The author would like to thank the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung for supporting her doctoral thesis and the respective paper.
The authors would also like to thank Julia Thaler (Bundeswehr University Munich) for valuable feedback throughout the process of development of the paper. Moreover, the authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for his/her valuable comments, which have helped to improve the paper.
Schäfer, F.-S., Hirsch, B. and Nitzl, C. (2022), "The effects of public service motivation, risk propensity and risk perception on defensive decision-making in public administrations", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBAFM-04-2022-0060
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