Doing good for others and/or for society? The relationships between public service motivation, user orientation and university grading

Lotte Bøgh Andersen, Thomas Pallesen, Heidi Houlberg Salomonsen


Public service motivation (PSM) is a pro-social motivation to serve the public good and shape the wellbeing of society. Although the key relevance of PSM is its potential effect on behavior, much of the evidence of the impact of PSMrelies on subjective measures of behavior. Additionally, the literature has not investigated whether PSM clashes with other types of pro-social motivation. This paper addresses these limitations by investigating how PSM and user orientation (pro-social motivation oriented towards the individual user) affect university teachers’ grading behavior in two Danish political science departments. We find that individuals with high PSM behave in ways that can be interpreted as protecting the public good. In contrast, university teachers with high user orientation behave in ways that benefit the individual user. The effect of PSM is moderated by institutional rules and norms, and the results imply that different types of pro-social motivation can affect behavior differently, especially when institutions are weak.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413