Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

David. J. Houston

Committee Members

David. H. Folz, Patricia Freeland, Megan Bryson


The study of public service motivation (PSM) has been thriving since Perry and Wise firstly defined the concept in 1990. The United States and developed European nations have dominated the researches in this area, while empirical studies outside Western societies are less common. Furthermore, most studies are based on a single-nation analysis. Is public service motivation also relevant in East Asia? To what degree do East Asian cultures cultivate public service motivation? Do the national contexts affect the extent of public service motivation? The purpose of the current research study is to investigate the theoretical and practical plausibility of public service motivation in East Asian society. In particular, this study examines the relationship between occupational locos (government and non-government) and occupational focus (public service and non-public service) on preference for work motives associated with public service motivation. By studying public service motivation in East Asian countries with cultures influenced by Confucianism, we consider the influence of national context on public service motivation. Survey data from three East Asian countries (Japan, Taiwan and South Korea) are taken from the International Social Survey Programme’s 2005 Work Orientations III module. Using logistic regression analysis, we found that public service motivation distinguishes employees in the government and non-government sectors, as well individuals in public service and non-public service occupations, but the function is not strongly supported as hypothesized. The role that Confucianism plays in East Asian cultures likely complicated the picture as it pertains to public service motivation. We find that previous research findings on public service motivation in Western societies are not fully applicable to other areas in the world. Additional research is needed to develop a deeper understanding of the relevance of public service motivation in East Asia.

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