Date of Award

December 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Tom Holbrook

Second Advisor

Doug Ihrke

Committee Members

Kathy Dolan, Sarah Benesh


The positive consequences of public service motivation (PSM) have been well-­demonstrated in the public administration literature. However, while it is often used as an independent variable, it is rarely used as a dependent variable. This dissertation expands the understanding of the antecedents of PSM, the dynamics of PSM over time, and the differences in PSM within bureaucrats. It was found that parental traits and religious practices had the largest effect on childhood PSM. Longitudinal models highlighted the constant impact of youth PSM over time, which no other study had had the data to do. It was also found that having higher PSM increased the likelihood of working for government, but that this effect was mediated by graduating from college, and that government employment increased PSM. Finally, it was found that working for local or state government had a positive effect on PSM, but federal employment had no effect.