Ethics and Human Resources Complexities in Public Administration

Motivation Theory to Practice

Explain motivational theory in human resource management in the public sector. Illustrate an example of motivational theory being put into to practice within human resource management.

Unit 2 Ethics and Human Resources Complexities in Public Administration


Unit 2 – Readings

Use your Public Human Resource Management text to complete the following:

• Review Chapter 14, “Motivating Public Service Employees in the Era of the “New Normal”.”

Motivation of employees is both an intrinsic and extrinsic process. The text explores both processes in

public service employees.

Use the Research Library to read the following:

• Hsieh, C., Yang, K., & Fu, K. (2012). Motivational bases and emotional labor: Assessing the impact of

public service motivation. Public Administration Review, 72(2), 241–251.

• Perry, J. L., Hondeghem, A., & Wise, L. R. (2010). Revisiting the motivational bases of public service:

Twenty years of research and an agenda for the future. Public Administration Review, 70(5), 681–690.

• Clerkin, R. M., & Coggburn, J. D. (2012). The dimensions of public service motivation and sector work

preferences. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 32(3), 209–235.

• Vandenabeele, W. (2007). Toward a public administration theory of public service motivation. Public

Management Review, 9(4), 545–556.

Readings (Optional)

• French, P. E., & Emerson, M. C. (2014). Assessing the variations in reward preference for local

government employees in terms of position, public service motivation, and public sector motivation.

Public Performance & Management Review, 37(4), 552–576.

• Alonso, P., & Lewis, G. B. (2001). Public service motivation and job performance: Evidence from the

federal sector. The American Review of Public Administration , 31 (4), 363–380.

• Wright, B. E. (2007). Public service and motivation: Does mission matter? Public Administration

Review, 67 (1), 54–64.

A Note on Theory

What is theory? How does it add value to human resource management? Merriam-Webster’s Online

Dictionary offers three simple definitions of theory:

1. An idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events.

2. The general principles or ideas that relate to a particular subject.

3. An idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true.

Given these definitions, we can extrapolate that theory can be used in human resource management in the

following ways:

• Theories offer explanations that guide practice, provide insight into problems, and point toward


• The generality of theories makes them adaptable for many different situations.

In addition, core theories are widely known by most practitioners in our field. That makes these theories

valuable in communicating management ideas to other professionals and for justifying actions or procedures

that you propose. This is why it is important to learn to explicitly relate your proposals to theories whenever


Identify Your Theoretical Bases

In your assignments, it is important to inform your readers which specific theories you are consulting. Sharing

ideas is great, but your ideas will be much more creditable if you explicitly tie them to established theories.

Do not assume your readers will realize what theories support your ideas unless you tell them.

Note that the third definition of theory cited above introduces a note of caution: While theories are

exceptionally useful as “rules of thumb,” solutions that depend on them should be carefully evaluated from

all relevant perspectives to be sure of their usefulness.


Theory. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.merriamwebster.