Questions of how and when managers can motivate the workforce of public organizations are fundamental for scholars and practitioners alike. A dominant assertion is that goal-oriented leadership strategies, such as transformational leadership, foster public service motivation (PSM). However, existing studies rely on designs that are vulnerable to endogeneity and rarely investigate the scope conditions of the leadership-PSM relationship. Combining a field experiment with 364 managers and surveys of their 3,470 employees, the authors show that transformational leadership and transactional leadership, when induced experimentally, do not have the claimed positive effect on PSM. In fact, the results indicate that goal-oriented leadership can have demotivating effects when employee and organizational values are incongruent. Public managers should therefore carefully assess existing levels of value (in)congruence before implementing goal-oriented leadership strategies, and—in case of value conflicts—seek to align perceptions of the desirable among members of the organization.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration