The literature on public service motivation (PSM) has typically focused on the relationship between this motivation and public/private sector of employment, while the character of the work being performed has been neglected. Through panel surveys with pre- and post-entry measures of PSM among certified Danish social workers, this study provides a unique design to investigate PSM-based attraction‒selection and socialization effects with respect to the choice between work related to service production and service regulation (controlled for public/private sector of employment). The study shows that the PSM profiles of social work students predict their preference for one of the two types of work tasks, but do not predict first employment in the preferred job. Conversely, post-entry shifts in social workers’ PSM profiles result from a complex interplay between influences from both work task and sector.
Public Administration Review, 2014, Vol 74, Issue 1, p. 101-112