What is wrong with job security?

AuthorChung‐An Chen,Zeger Wal,Assel Mussagulova
Date01 August 2019
Published date01 August 2019
What is wrong with job security?
Assel Mussagulova
|Zeger van der Wal
|ChungAn Chen
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
National University of Singapore, Singapore
A. Mussagulova, Nanyang Technological
University 50 Nanyang Avenue, 639798,
Email: muss0002@e.ntu.edu.sg
Most Western studies into motivation suggest that public servants are prosocial.
Moreover, scholars suggest that a desire for external rewards, like pay and job secu-
rity, may crowd out prosocial proclivity. However, recent studies from nonWestern
contexts provide mixed results about the actual drivers of public servants' motivation
to seek and retain public sector employment and perform their duties. To advance the
development of theory regarding motivational dynamics of public servants in devel-
oping countries, we examine how pursuing external rewards impacts public service
motivation, job satisfaction, and turnover intention among public servants in Kazakh-
stan (n= 627), a developing former Soviet republic that has been subjected to various
waves of personnel reform. Our quantitative and qualitative data show that a desire
for job security relates positively to public service motivation and job satisfaction,
whereas a desire for monetary rewards correlates negatively with public service moti-
vation and positively with turnover intention. We conclude with the implications for
theory and practice.
employee attitudes, external rewards, Kazakhstan, management reform, motivation
Public service motivation (PSM) research suggests that public ser-
vants have prosocial and altruistic proclivity (Perry & Wise, 1990;
Ritz, Brewer, & Neumann, 2016). However, most PSM studies utilize
data from Western countries. A rapidly growing body of research
from nonWestern contexts, Asian countries in particular, suggests
that competing motives and drivers are at play for public servants in
those settings, often with external rewards dominating (omitted;
Infeld, Adams, Qi, & Rosnah, 2010; Ko & Han, 2013; Liu & Tang,
2011; Liu, Tang, & Yang, 2013; Perry, 2014; Taylor & Beh, 2013;
omitted). These findings are in line with the agenda for the third wave
of PSM research as recently identified by Perry (2014). He empha-
sizes upon the need to study natural, multiincentive settings(Perry,
2014, p. 40), which extend beyond PSM, to compensation and job
security, thereby providing a more complete picture of the dynamics
that influence behavior(p. 41).
With this paper, we answer this call by employing quantitative and
qualitative data from Kazakhstan, a developing Central Asian country
that has seen rapid growth since it gained Soviet independence in
1991. Kazakhstan represents an understudied geographical region in
our field despite its growing prominence as an important trade hub
and transit corridor between Asia and Europe and is a key regional
example of economic success and ambitious public sector reform
attempts (Janenova & Knox, 2017). We assess the effect of the pursuit
of high pay and the pursuit of job security on PSM and other
employee attitudes crucial to performance.
Perry (2014, p. 40) suggests that former Soviet republics are
best characterized as nonincentive typesettings, with low job
security, low pay, and low PSM. However, contrary to other coun-
tries that underwent similar reforms, job security drastically
increased since 1991 in Kazakhstan. At present, we do not know
whether PSM is low or high, as our study is a first in Kazakhstan.
Houston (2014), in his study into six former Soviet countries, argues
that they lack an obligationbased public service ethos that is
common in Western research, having been hampered by the admin-
istrative subculture characteristic of their communist legacy (see also
Perry, 2014).
Received: 25 September 2018 Revised: 27 June 2019 Accepted: 29 July 2019
DOI: 10.1002/pad.1863
Public Admin Dev. 2019;39:121132. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/pad 121

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