International Comparison of Public and Private Employees??? Work Motives, Attitudes, and Perceived Rewards


This article presents a conceptual perspective on the distinctive characteristics of public organizations and their personnel. This perspective leads to hypotheses that public organizations deliver distinctive goods and services that influence the motives and rewards for their employees. These hypotheses are tested with evidence from the International Social Survey Programme in order to compare public and private employees in 30 nations. Public employees in 28 of the 30 nations expressed higher levels of public-service-oriented motives. In all of the countries, public employees were more likely to say they receive rewards in the form of perceived social impact. In most of the countries, public employees placed less importance on high income as a reward and expressed higher levels of organizational commitment.