Most studies of Public Service Motivation investigate differences in motivation between public and private sector employees, but how these differences emerge and evolve in a pre-entry setting is still puzzling. Based on cross-sectional survey data with 3,521 Danish students enrolled in different vocational studies and at different stages (years) of their educational programs, this article investigates the socializing effects of higher education into different levels of public service motivation. The analysis demonstrates that students’ levels of public service motivation at different stages of their educational programs depends on the field of study: The level of public service motivation among students in vocational studies aimed at jobs with core public service delivery stays the same during education, whereas the level of public service motivation among students in other fields increases substantively with the length of their studies. This reveals that the association between education and public service motivation is perhaps not as uniform as previous studies have assumed.
International Public Management Journal, 2012, Vol 15, Issue 4