Millennials and public service renewal: introduction on millennials and public service motivation (PSM)

Ng, Eddy S.W., Gossett, Charles W., and Winter, Richard (2016) Millennials and public service renewal: introduction on millennials and public service motivation (PSM). Public Administration Quarterly, 40 (3). pp. 412-428.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


In Canada, as in many other Western countries, governments at all levels are facing a shift in the demographic profile of the public service workforce. The first of the "baby boomers"-a large cohort of employees born between 1946 and 1965-has reached the age of 65, beginning what is expected to be a wave of retirements over the next two decades (Public Policy Forum, 2011). In light of this challenge, governments need effective recruitment and retention strategies based on an understanding of what motivates potential employees to choose public service as a career path. A particularly important target group is the "Millennial" generation, who are entering the workforce and constitute the bulk of the talent pool for public service recruitment (Chester, 2002; Ng, Schweitzer, & Lyons, 2010). What motivates Millennials to pursue a public service career? What are their expectations concerning the benefits of a career in the public sector? In this paper, we explore these questions, drawing on and contributing to the rich scholarly literature on public service motivation (PSM), which analyzes the motives that impel individuals to serve the public good (Perry & Hondeghem, 2008). Our study adds a Canadian dimension to extant studies of university students conducted in the United States (e.g., Carpenter, Doverspike, & Miguel, 2012; Horton & Hondeghem, 2006) and Australia (e.g., Taylor, 2005, 2008)-countries that are similar to Canada with respect to their demographic profile and public sector recruitment challenges, including multiple levels of government vying for "the best and the brightest." Complementing the survey-based research in this area, our study infers students' PSM through a qualitative discourse analysis of statements of interest submitted by applicants to a Canadian Master's program designed explicitly to prepare graduates for a public service career. Our analysis of the written texts reveals personal and professional experiences that underpin elements of PSM, such as a perceived "call to serve" and a passion to "make a difference." It also identifies personal and societal benefits that students expect to be associated with a public service career. Understanding student motivations to pursue public service, and the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that they associate with public sector employment, may inform government strategies to recruit and retain Millennial employees. The paper begins by examining the work-related attitudes and expectations typically ascribed to the Millennial generation. It then draws on scholarly literature about PSM to identify factors that are believed to attract individuals to public service. The third section outlines the study's methodology, followed by a discussion of the data analysis. The study findings are presented next, organized according to the research questions. Finally, we consider the implications of the findings for public service recruitment and retention, and offer suggestions for further research in this area.

Item ID: 57934
Item Type: Article (Scholarly Work)
ISSN: 2327-4433
Copyright Information: Copyright Southern Public Administration Education Foundation Fall 2016
Date Deposited: 09 May 2019 22:17
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910405 Public Sector Productivity @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 6
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page