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Intrinsic motivation, effort and the call to public service

Author

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  • Banuri, Sheheryar
  • Keefer, Philip

Abstract

Pay schemes in the public sector aim to attract motivated, high-ability applicants. A nascent literature has found positive effects of higher pay on ability and no or slightly positive effects on motivation. This paper revisits this issue with a novel subject pool, students destined for the private and public sectors in Indonesia. The analysis uses dictator games and real effort tasks to examine wage effects on a measure of motivation that exactly matches the mission of the public sector task. The model and experimental design allow for precisely measuring (1) the distribution of ability over the effort task; (2) the distribution of motivational preferences for public sector missions; and (3) outside options when choosing to work for public sector missions. Three novel conclusions emerge. First, more pro-social workers do, in fact, exert higher effort in a pro-social task. Second, in contrast to previous research, motivated individuals are more likely to join the public sector when public sector pay is low than when it is high. Third, real public sector workers exhibit greater pro-sociality than private sector workers, even for entrants into the Indonesian Ministry of Finance.

Suggested Citation

  • Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2013. "Intrinsic motivation, effort and the call to public service," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6729, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6729
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2015. "Are public sector workers different? Cross-European evidence from elderly workers and retirees," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-21, December.
    2. Frederico Finan & Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2015. "The Personnel Economics of the State," NBER Working Papers 21825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Felipe Augusto de Araujo & Erin Carbone & Lynn Conell-Price & Marli W. Dunietz & Ania Jaroszewicz & Rachel Landsman & Diego Lamé & Lise Vesterlund & Stephanie Wang & Alistair J. Wilson, 2015. "The Effect of Incentives on Real Effort: Evidence from the Slider Task," CESifo Working Paper Series 5372, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Mirco Tonin, 2015. "Are workers motivated by the greater good?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 138-138, March.
    5. Peter Backus & Alejandro Esteller-Moré, 2014. "Is income redistribution a form of insurance, a public good or both?," Working Papers 2014/33, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    6. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10797-016-9420-5 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Sector Economics; Public Sector Management and Reform; Educational Sciences; Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations and Local Finance Management; Economic Stabilization;

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