Better understanding the bundle of incentives that motivate people to serve the public is part of the
workforce challenge for 21 st Century public services.
(Needham et al., 2014, p6)
Are people not motivated to work anymore in public sector? Does motivation increase innovation and effectiveness in public sector work?
Yes, says a report published by Nesta, a UK charity leading on research in public sector innovation and social change. It furthermore argues:
A lot has been written on the role of leadership, building skills and capacity, and experimentation and risk in enabling public sector innovation. But how to harness the motivation of public servants has been much less examined in the literature on public sector innovation. Public sector innovation has not caught up with developments in behavioural economics and psychology, or in ‘Cultural Theory’, the sociology of organisations, and institutional theory.Together, these have transformed our understanding of what motivates individuals operating within groups and organisations, and how to harness that motivation. We now need to better understand how to motivate public servants to innovate and what enabling conditions, cultures and incentives are needed to do so.
Recent research has shown that in the public sector, intrinsic motivations are positively related to innovation (whereas evidence of a positive relationship between innovation and extrinsic motivations is mixed) (Rosenblatt 2011)
Empowering frontline staff to exercise their judgement, giving them skills and resources to get the job done and holding them accountable for results, led to employees working harder and trying to improve theirperformance by seeking out new and better ways of doing things.