The Relationship between Organizational Context and Public Service Motivation of German Nursing Staff
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Over the last two decades, public service motivation (PSM) has received a considerable amount of attention, because it is thought to result in a range of desirable work related attitudes and behaviors. However, empirical research on PSM’s antecedents, specifically the organizational context, which is claimed to influence PSM strongly, is limited. In this study, the transmission from organizational context (referred to as HPWS) to an individual level of (public service) motivated behavior is explained by the self-determination. Next to limited research addressing the organizational context as antecedent of PSM, there is no empirical research investigating the question whether the wildly spread claim ‘the level of PSM in public organizations is higher than in private ones’ can be generalized to organizations operating in one single sector. This empirical survey study aims to shed light on this lack of knowledge by using the data of 251 nurses working in four different hospitals (two private and two public ones), both located in Germany, gained by means of questionnaires. Based upon the data presented in this study, one can conclude that HPWS basic psychological needs and PSM are interrelated. Training’, ‘job characteristics’, ‘teamwork’, and ‘say in decision making’ play a crucial role in fostering PSM. In addition, the three psychological basic needs ‘competence’, ‘relatedness’, and ‘autonomy’ are significant antecedents of PSM as well, since they have correlated strongly with PSM and the organizational context. However, based upon the data, it cannot be concluded that the basic needs mediate the relationship between PSM and organizational context completely. Consequentially, even though the self-determination provides a good explanation for the transmission of institutional variables to an individual level of analysis, it cannot explain the whole process exclusively. For this reason, more research needs to be done, which investigates this relationship in combination with other relevant variables, such as organizational commitment and job satisfactions, to clarify this complex interrelatedness. Finally, as hypothesized, there was no significant difference between the nurses’ level of PSM working in private, compared to public hospitals.