Employee engagement has long been capturing the attention of researchers and practitioners (Bakker, Albrecht, & Leiter, 2011; Kahn, 1990), due to its positive impact on various measures of organizational performance and individual level outcomes (Gruman & Saks, 2011; Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002). To date however, employee engagement has primarily been studied in private manufacturing firms, but since it cannot be assumed that employee engagement models developed in the private sector are applicable to the public sector (Boselie, 2010; Taher & Emmert, 1992), future research is needed. The purpose of this paper is therefore to build a research agenda aiming to understand employee engagement in a public service context. The paper begins with a literature review of the main contributions to the study of employee engagement and then follows with a brief review of the public sector, highlighting some of the challenges facing public service organizations in particular. Thereafter, several questions are formulated to guide development of a qualitative explorative study following a grounded theory approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1990).
Employee engagement; public service sector; public service motivation; emotional labour