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Symposium 2015

Virtual Library File - Why Motivation Matters in Public Sector Innovation

The Challenge

How can the communities of people around the globe be induced to become more caring, not just within the social groups from which they derive their identities, but also across these groups? As the w ...

How can the communities of people around the globe be induced to become more caring, not just within the social groups from which they derive their identities, but also across these groups? As the world's problems - from climate change to financial crises - become more global in reach, how can people's domain of altruism be extended accordingly? What concrete steps can be taken across countries and cultures to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and weaken the forces of conflict?

A change in values towards more pro-social motivation in a society requires that also the values of the public sector and the workers that work in this sector need to change accordingly. So far, insights about behavior and decision processes coming from neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics had little influence in the structure and work processes of the public sector itself. However, also public servants draw on intrinsic motivations and are driven by altruistic motives. Unfortunately, their incentive systems, structures and workflows are rather designed to provide motivation through extrinsic motivation. Moreover, this document makes the point that showing public sector employees the prosocial impact of their work can increase their feeling of compassion for these citizens. This then in turn can lead to innovation of the public sector towards more pro-social outcomes.