Office of Dean Research

Competing Assumptions of Public Service Motivation: A View from the Developing World

Aisha Azhar


From a qualitative study of public service motivation among public employees in Pakistan, the authors formulate a model of PSM in developing countries that shows some deviations from the generic model of PSM as studied in western countries. They find that, because of the different cultural background, public employees could not associate with the principal motivational structure of a public servant generally depicted in the underlying assumptions of PSM. While public employees demonstrated concerns related with empathy and compassion, they could not relate them with public service. Moreover, the antecedents for these altruistic concerns were related primarily with Islam religion. Self-selection into the public service was found to be majorly the pursuit of power, position and sometimes opportunities for corruption. The authors conclude that competing assumptions of PSM in a developing country i.e. are not irrational but are embedded in local rationalities that admittedly countervail the ethical foundations of public service. These local rationalities seem widely accepted among public employees in Pakistan.