Of bureaucrats and passionate public managers: Institutional logics, executive identities, and public service motivation

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Over recent decades, a number of managerial reform initiatives in continental Europe have aimed at moving away from the traditional Weberian model of public administration. Such shifting bases of legitimacy are brought about by changes in the institutional logics in place, which not only provide frames of reference but also social identities and vocabularies of motive for the actors in the field. In this article, we approach the expanding research on public service motivation (PSM) by employing an institutional prism. Based on an executive survey in a continental European context, we examine the assumption that high PSM is associated with the traditional ethos and social identity in the public sector. What we find is that a Weberian legalistic-bureaucratic logic supports neither a high attraction to policy-making nor a high level of compassion. A managerial orientation, on the other hand, entails significantly higher scores on these two dimensions, as well as on overall PSM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861 - 885
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014

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