Public Service Motivation in a Work Group: Role of Ethical Climate and Servant Leadership

Dong Chul Shim, Hyun Hee Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The current study attempts to examine Perry’s assertion that the public service motivation (PSM) of government employees may be influenced by the logic of appropriateness. Based on a survey of 596 Korean local government employees in 110 work groups, this study investigated the associations between ethical climate, servant leadership, and PSM. Multilevel structural equation models (SEM) were employed. At the individual level, ethical climate (i.e., efficiency, rule/law, independence) was significantly associated with PSM. However, at the work group level, ethical climate did not demonstrate a significant association with PSM. In addition, this study found that servant leadership is effective in helping government employees develop PSM at both the individual and work group levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-225
Number of pages23
JournalPublic Personnel Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/ or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016S1A3A2924956).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • ethical climate
  • motivation theory
  • organizational behavior
  • public service motivation
  • servant leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Public Service Motivation in a Work Group: Role of Ethical Climate and Servant Leadership'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this