Towards a public service motivation theory for Brazil
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Although Public Service Motivation theory (PSM) has been widely studied since Perry’s 1996 seminal work, including studies in different countries, there are still gaps in the literature regarding the emergence of PSM (wright 2008), its implications for public-sector employees recruitment and intake process, and its potential effects on job performance, particularly in an emerging country such as Brazil. In order to study public service motivation in Brazil, and its evolution from recruitment through retention, we carried a quantitative and qualitative research in a Brazilian regulatory agency, the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), a public sector organization, and in a hybrid organization, Petrobras, an oil and gas company, a previously state-owned enterprise. Although Petrobras has now opened its capital and the hiring regime differs from public sector organizations, its capital is still majoritarily in the hands of the state and the agency ethos is still predominantly a public sector one. Therefore, this paper explores how the PSM construct, as proposed by James Perry (1990), applies to the Brazilian reality and suggests new elements for a new construct for a Brazilian PSM concept. Indeed, the data collected bears evidence that PSM as initially proposed in the cited study is not relevant to determine public service recruitment and entry motivation in Brazil. Values such as mission are not the reasons why Brazilian employees feel attracted to the public service. Nevertheless, once in the job, retention of such employees might result of a socially developed motivation and belief in the values regarding the mission of public organizations. This study also shows that the conditions of entry, as well as the progression paths before and after the recruitment are unique and peculiar to the Brazilian public sector entry mode. This study used a two-folded methodological approach: first, the author applied a survey to employees in both organizations using Perry ́s proposed survey instrument to test whether the PSM construct applied to the Brazilian case. Second, in-depth semi-strucutured interviews were carried out with employees in both organizations in order to collect data about specific features of motivation. This paper then concludes that the PSM concept must be redefined for the Brazilian case and that public service motivation is socially constructed on the job. Finally, the findings show that there is a unique dynamic in the Brazilian public service: given how competitive public examinations are, before recruitment, employees go through several competitive exams, erratically. They initially apply to very competitive and highly paid positions and, if they do not pass, they apply to lesser and lesser competitive positions until they pass. This characterizes a downward selection process. Conversely, once they have passed the examination, they start to compete for jobs that are higher paid, in an upward progression mode. Chosen jobs are not necessarily along the same profession lines. However, during the upward progression within the public sector, motivation and identity with the public sector emerges.