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Motivating public sector employees

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This Solution discusses how to motivate employees in the public sector. Ryan and Deci's Self-Determination Theory is explained as a tool to use in motivation.

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Solution Summary

Motivating employees in the public sector can be difficult. Ryan and Deci's Self-Determination Theory can be a possible tool for public administrators. This solution offers a brief introduction to Self-Determination Theory and public sector motivation.

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Motivation is critical in any organization, but especially so in the public sector where pay raises and other incentives are difficult to come by. Constrained by budgets and bureaucracy, government leaders must find other ways to motivate and inspire employees. Ryan and Deci (2000) contend that motivation is critical because it produces verifiable results. Public sector leaders must find innovative and inexpensive ways to motivate their staff. Further, there are persistent claims that public leaders are unable to reward good employees and dismiss bad employees (Feeney & Rainey, 2009). In order to overcome the restrictions perceived to be associated with motivating public sector employees, an empirically verifiable theory is needed.
Self-Determination Theory contends that humans, in order to operate at their optimal level, must have three basic psychological needs met. These needs include autonomy, competence and relatedness. By promoting environments that foster the satisfaction of these needs, public sector leaders can encourage employee self-regulation and self-motivation. Considerable research has supported the application of self-determination theory across fields and cultures (Deci & Ryan, 2008).
Research indicates that public employees are influenced by a high public service motivation ...

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